Sound bite day in court

Yesterday Cameron Slater outlined his case in the defamation proceedings between him and Colin Craig. Today Craig questioned Slater, who seemed to relish the chance to promote himself and Whale Oil. I just don’t know how much this will promote his chances with the judge.

At Whale Oil Slater’s approach was previewed by Pete Belt: “Cam is providing testimony in handy sound bites. Journos will be seriously conflicted.”

Slater had already said yesterday “I am by profession a journalist; I was simply doing my job.”

Newstalk ZB: Colin Craig and Cameron Slater clash in courtroom

Slater said the personal affairs of politicians needed to be exposed if they reflected hypocrisy.

“If you put yourself in public, then yes, you get a free hit. But (journalists) have to stay within bounds of law. You have to tell the truth”.

“But just because someone doesn’t like what’s being said about them, doesn’t mean it’s defamatory.”

Plenty of legal cases around the world suggested there was a “free-for-all on politicians”, he said.

Responding to a long series of questions, he also provided a string of opinions and criticism about numerous notable New Zealand journalists and the mainstream media, and talked at length about the high readership of his blog, saying “the stats show I’m a winner”.

“The numbers reflect the content. It’s content that’s relevant to readers. It’s daylight between me and second”.

In contrast Monday Slater’s lawyer Brian Henry referred to Whale as “a small blog site”.

Stuff: Insults fly at Colin Craig, Cameron Slater defamation hearing

“Most people in New Zealand do not have vast resources to willy nilly sue everyone that has crossed them in some way.”

“Politicians or people with thin skins shouldn’t really get into the game of politics, because abuse gets hurled around all the time.”

Slater may love the abusive approach but his thin skin shows when challenged with reasoned criticism.

“I wrote a few posts that at best, 6000 people read.

The stats must only show he’s a winner when it suits his narrative.

“It was a massive overreaction on your part and made worse by the fact you lied about me.”

“Your way is a quaint old-fashioned view of pencil-pushing reporters who are very shy and call everyone ‘mister'”.

“Times have moved on from the 1800s and it’s time you moved on as well.”

On politics, rules and standards:

“It’s in my DNA, politics. It’s the best game in town. There are no rules.”

He didn’t necessarily need to adhere to journalistic standards, or differentiate between fact and opinion, he said.

“You’re trying to hold me to a standard that other people are holding themselves to, but I don’t subscribe to those standards.

“I do operate to standards but they’re just not written down.”

However legal standards are written down, and that’s what will decide this case.

Asked whether he had an obligation to test the accuracy of facts, Slater responded: “How can you test the accuracy of a known liar?”

Craig also asked Slater whether he’d used the words “ratbag and scumbag” to describe him.

“Well, you are both,” Slater replied.

Is attack always the best way of legal defence?

Steve Braunias tried another lighter approach (a curious approach by the herald): Craig v Slater – Great comedy, but no one laughed

“I have a legion of followers…My blog is better than every other blog…In a few short months my figures will skyrocket. They will double…I busted Len Brown…I break a lot of stories…I’m respected for my political views.

“I know what most politicians are up to. There’s plenty of them playing around…They can’t keep secrets…I get things right…I talk to parties across the political spectrum…I told someone from John Key’s office to get stuffed once.”

Craig asked how many contributors regularly wrote for Whaleoil. Well, said Slater, there was himself, his wife, and someone called Pete.

He mentioned he was “a multi award-winning journalist”. Craig asked him about this multitude of honours. Slater said something called Net Guide had twice named Whaleoil as best blog, and he also won a Canon media award for his Len Brown scoop.

“Three,” said Craig. As a qualified accountant, he is an expert in addition.

“Well,” Slater retorted, “my stats show I’m a winner!”

“I’m the same as any other media organisation. But in many respects, I’m better.”

And far more modest.

“Left-wing ratbags…I gave [former Green MP] Kevin Hague a good hiding…I make people laugh.”

At one point, he bragged that he was an in-demand political commentator. The proof was his regular appearances talking about politics on Channel 83.

“I’ve been on every show bar one”.

Channel 83 can’t be perfume for pensioners, but I guess it’s out there somewhere.

So Slater took the snarly sound bite approach. And bared his fangs at Craig (and some journalists apparently). It may play well to his Whale Oil audience, but time will tell whether it bites him on the bum in court.

This is half way through the second of what has been set down as a three week trial.


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  1. Kitty Catkin

     /  May 17, 2017

    I suppose that three could be called ‘multi’, but I would expect multi to be more than that. I have never heard of Channel 83-have other people ?

    CS can’t have read much c.19 history-he seems to have a limited knowledge of what politics were like then. He also seems not to have heard that self-praise is no recommendation.

    The poor man’s Trump.

    • Tipene

       /  May 17, 2017

      Slater’s talking about his appearances on an obscure (like 100 viewers-per-episode-per-week average) Sky Channel 83 programme called “Stirring the Pot”.

      He has also made one political radio commentary this year on (drum roll please…..) Radio Waatea.

      Today had all the hallmarks of Slater’s tortured attempt at a “last hurrah” -and it might have been if Slater wasn’t facing yet ANOTHER defamation case after this one:

      If Slater et al think Colin Craig had deep pockets – wait until he runs into the combined legal budgets of the University of Auckland, the University of Otago, and the Tamanuhiri Maori Agency.

      Carrick Graham and the Food & Grocery Council (including Katherine Rich) are also named in the proceeding alongside Slater:

      • Revel

         /  May 17, 2017

        There is no suggestion the Universities are funding the action, there has however been talk of a rich third party backer.

        • Tipene

           /  May 18, 2017

          @ Revel: Universities don’t hang their tenured staff out to dry – they back them to the hilt.

          By attacking the reputation of the University staff, Slater has by default attacked the reputation of the Universities – and they won’t be having that.

          Same goes for the Tamanuhiri Maori Agency.

          A rich third party backer?

          Slater’s going to need the means of George Soros for this next one, and given Slater’s ongoing carelessness with private information, any rich third party backer who thinks his / her / their involvement would remain on the down-low would have to have space rocks in their head.

  2. Gezza

     /  May 17, 2017

    Must admit I’m sorry there’s no live feed of the case.

  3. Loki

     /  May 17, 2017

    I got a swimming medal at school, so I must be a great astronaut..
    He got a canon award for best blog and a couple of netguide awards for…. his blog..
    A blog award doesn’t make you a journalist..
    An earlier commenter mentioned the health advocates/ professors having him in court.
    He is still facing oblivion from Blomfield as well.

    • Conspiratoor

       /  May 17, 2017

      If I recall he got the award for breaking the story of the year. Sounds to me like something any self respecting journalist might aspire to…

    • Bill Brown

       /  May 17, 2017

      Well Loki I read he was declared a journalist by the High Court so guess he’s a journalist

      You mention the Blomfield case. It’s fascinating as that case has been on the NZH with multiple stories, it’s been here at Your NZ, The Standard, Kiwi Blog, The Daily Blog and Lauda Finem – so lots of coverage, so the question is this – how on earth does a case take 5 years to never even reach a substantive hearing ????????

      Not to forget ….

      When is the actual trial???

      Is the trial even going ahead or has it died ????

      Sure there’s been a bit of jostling and appeal stuff but still not Court date. Most intriguing don’t you think?

      • Loki

         /  May 18, 2017

        Don’t be shocked if Toogood reverses that “journalist” tag after Napoleons mad monologue in court Wednesday (nz time).
        What a lunatic.
        And Blomfield seems very determined..

        • Bill Brown

           /  May 18, 2017

          Oh well we shall see all in good time

          You say determined on the part of Blomfield…… but 5 years to make a case seems a little to long I would have thought, as if you were defamed like he claims you’d want it resolved asap like Craig has – as the stories about Blomfield are far and wide thru many media outlets. And most I’ve read rather unflattering I

          Maybe the outcome of Craig V Slater will just be costs where they lay as fault on both sides ?

          • “as the stories about Blomfield are far and wide thru many media outlets”

            Really? As the other links to decisions I’ve just posted show they have been scrubbed from Whale Oil, and there’s only one other site that has kept posting stories as far as I’m aware – and that site is far from credible, they are notorious for breaking the law and making false accusations.

      • Tha has gone quiet. I don’t know if it is going to the actual trial – there’s been a lot of preliminary court action. The last online are:

        BLOMFIELD v SLATER [2016] NZHC 210 [18 February 2016]
        BLOMFIELD v SLATER [2016] NZHC 149 [10 February 2016]

        I guess it will have to fit in with Slater’s busy court schedule. It may be of interest to Blomfield if Slater gets a big financial win against Craig, and the details of the judgment may well also be a factor as Craig v Slater is a similar situation where Whale Oil has waged a campaign against someone.

        • Bill Brown

           /  May 18, 2017

          All I’m saying is 5 years is a long time if you’ve been defamed and then don’t make your case. One of the Judgements by Asher J as far back as 2015 said at the time that Blomfield could move forward on his substantive claim as the court of appeal was a side show.

          Saying that I guess Blomfield will need to lodge security for costs etc and given the number of posts by WO the trial could take weeks and weeks