Whale Oil scuttled

The crew announced yesterday that they were scuttling the Whale Oil blog – It’s the End of an Era…and the start of a new one.

It’s certainly the end of an era, but far too soon to know whether it’s the start of a new one, or whether the transfer to another site and brand will rescue some fizz, or continue their fizzling out of significance. The final post by SB/spanish bride/Juana Atkins suggests that it will be the same old self delusion and denial.

It has been nearly 15 years since Whaleoil’s creator and editor Cameron Slater posted his first post. During that time Whaleoil became New Zealand’s number one most popular and most-read blog. It has won numerous blog awards including a Canon Media Award for Best Blog and to date, it has had two works of fiction written about it.

The site won  couple of contentious awards, but that was five to six years ago, before the scab was lifted by Nicky Hager’s book Dirty Politics (which was mostly uncontested fact), and Whale Oil was quickly (and Cameron Slater gradually) deserted by most politicians and media that had helped build and sustain the brash and dirty site.

The second ‘work of fiction’ presumably refers to Margie Thomson’s book Whale Oil that was published in May this year. That revealed a decade long campaign against businessman Matt Blomfield, including over a hundred attack attack posts on Whale Oil, which led to six years of Slater trying to avoid a trial before a judge found that he had no defence to a number of charges of defamation. So the fiction writer is Atkins.

Inevitably as the dirty trade and tirades were exposed things turned to custard for Slater, since Dirty Politics started the exposure in 2014.

Journalists no longer fed or repeated Whale Oil.

Politicians stopped using and feeding Slater – and Slater gradually turned on those who had fed him, as well as running bitter campaigns against Key, against Bill English, Stephen Joyce, Amy Adams, Michael Woodhouse et al – and that’s just from the National Party.

Three defamation cases converged in the second half of last year, with Blomfield winning his case, Colin Craig partially winning, and three academics pushing Slater to comply with legal requirements to disclose information aall in October 2018. The month ended with Slater suffering from a stroke. The severity of that is being disputed in the courts as what Slater’s supporters claimed conflicted with what Slater appeared to be doing.

Legal costs amounted to hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not a million or more, with the prospects of that growing to multi millions of dollars of debt.

In February this year Slater filed for bankruptcy. The company he had jointly owned with Atkins was put into liquidation, owing over half a million dollars. A new company was set up to continue running Whale Oil, but that was only going to delay the inevitable.

From the First Liquidator’s Report (29 March 2019)

The liquidator took over as registrar of whaleoil.co.nz on 10 June – see here. So it was a matter of time before Whale Oil ceased operations (they tried shifting to another domain name but that seems to have been futile).

From yesterday’s announcement:

Whaleoil was so influential that shadowy forces conspired to take it down and a hacker was paid to hack it.

What actually happened was a number of people held Slater and his company to account through the courts. The three defamation cases had a common target but were quite separate.

I have seen no evidence that “a hacker was paid to hack it” – ironically Slater was charged with (and admitted) paying a hacker to try to take down The Standard, but accusing others of doing what they did was common practice at Whale Oil.

Slater and Whale Oil attacks targeted and affected hundreds of people nd their families and associates. Not just MPs and Prime Ministers, but also people standing for National Party candidacy – I recall dirty tactics in the Northland and Rodney electorates for example, which appear to have been paid for hit jobs.

Len Brown and his family (and Bevan Chuang) were adversely affected by an attempt by Slater to overturn the 2013 mayoral election in 2013.

Families of dead people were attacked, most notably the West Coast feral incident which may be related to the hack that resulted in Dirty Politics being published.

There is a long list of victims of Whale Oil, and of Slater and associates including Atkins who continued some divisive attack posting, including support of international far right operators.

While there were some notable successes and achievements, Slater and Whale Oil will mostly be remembered for being dirty and toxic, and for crashing and burning while blaming others for their self inflicted predicaments.

The new site will lose the brand and probably quite a bit of recognition and support, but will carry with it the dirt and the failures of Whale Oil.more on that in another post.

Other coverage:

The Spinoff: RIP Whaleoil.net.nz (2005-2019): the blog that turned NZ politics feral

It is customary to say kind words about a person or entity when they leave this world forever. So what then can one say about Whaleoil, the blog which in 2014 described a victim of a car crash as a “feral”?

So farewell Whaleoil.net.nz. If it is to be remembered for anything, let it be for making politics a crueler, and more viscerally hateful arena. May we never see its like again.

RNZ: Whaleoil ends after 15 years of political blogs

The right-wing blog Whaleoil has closed in the wake of its parent company going bust, defamation cases and its controversial founder Cameon Slater suffering a stroke.

Whaleoil has been running for 15 years. It was the subject of the 2014 book Dirty Politics by the investigative journalist Nicky Hager, which detailed its close links with some National MPs in running smear campaigns against political opponents.

NZ Herald: The end of the Whaleoil blog – from an outlet for depression to financial pressure and court battles

The Whaleoil blog has shut down, bringing an end to an online publishing effort which began as an outlet for mental health issues – and ended in infamy and financial failure.

A number of people involved in the blog, or linked to it, did not wish to comment when contacted. National MP Judith Collins, who has described Slater as a family friend and was revealed in Dirty Politics to have passed information to Slater, did not respond to an interview request.

Neither Slater nor wife Juana Atkins responded to requests for comment.

Hager welcomed the final post as “positive for New Zealand politics”.

“The Whaleoil blog was incredibly destructive and hurt many, many people who didn’t deserve it and was part of an era of particularly ugly politics and we should rejoice it is finally gone.”

Kiwiblog: Vale Whale Oil

The end of one era but the start of a new one. I wish them well.

David Farrar loyal to the end, which is a bit odd given Whale Oil’s campaigning against Bill English and National, and their ongoing campaign against Simon Bridges .

Comments from other National supporters at Kiwiblog:

Tony Stuart

WO (the blog, not the individual) has been shilling for Bridges to be replaced for more than a year. As a paid-up party member, I can’t see it happening.

Bridges has emerged from the party conference last weekend in good form, with the party vote still holding up at 45%. I am almost certain that would drop if Bridges was rolled as leader. As much as I respect Judith Collins as a politician, I don’t believe she is the right person to be leading National at the moment.

peterwn

Most of the shilling has come from SB. I do not recollect her shilling against Simon when Cam was active. Is she taking instructions from Cam’s sick-bed?

Tony Stuart

Highly likely, I would think.

The Standard: Later Whaleoil

I wonder if this is strategic?  And I wonder how creditors feel about this announcement?  I am sure they will be interested that there is a proper amount paid for any IP the Whaleoil site may have.

While Whale Oil may have waxed, waned and now withered from public view there is likely to be more unravelling in the background.


Legal facts you won’t see on Whale Oil:

 

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23 Comments

  1. Pickled Possum

     /  2nd August 2019

    Yuck!!! the smell of rotting whale.
    Well I’ll be fooked.
    There is justice in the world.

    Reply
    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  2nd August 2019

      Just the faint scent of long lost Goodwill. In the end Slater’s disrespect for himself turned onto others has destroyed him and his. A tragedy entirely of his own making and those of the company he chose. He can’t even blame colonialism.

      Reply
      • Kitty Catkin

         /  2nd August 2019

        I can’t remember the details of the case where Slater called that person ‘feral’, a word which has been flogged to death as an insult (says more about the user than the person it’s been used about) but it was a disgusting thing to say.

        Reply
        • Kitty Catkin

           /  2nd August 2019

          The parents had lost three sons before; one in Pike River, one in another crash (he was 7) and one in a ‘fall’.

          Reply
      • Conspiratoor

         /  4th August 2019

        Unlike folks who get their jollies from childish insults, yours is a considered response Al. David Farrar has done something he very rarely does and republished a post in full. This one from one of Slater’s acquaintances who knows him well. Well worth a read…

        https://www.kiwiblog.co.nz/2010/05/cactus_on_whale-2.html

        Reply
    • Kitty Catkin

       /  2nd August 2019

      Three WO supporters here, Possum. I take it that they are the ones who seem not to see anything bad about abusing a dead man who was the fourth one of the sons to die in an accident.

      Let’s hope that scuttled means sunk without trace.

      Reply
  2. Jeeves Ponzi

     /  2nd August 2019

    What a shame,
    I was really fond of Cameron Slater and Juanita.

    Reply
  3. MaureenW

     /  2nd August 2019

    Not before time .. Whaleoil lost it’s way a long time back and never recovered.

    Reply
  4. They are still active on Facebook

    Reply
  5. Conspiratoor

     /  4th August 2019

    The end of one era but the start of a new one. I wish them well

    David Farrar loyal to the end, which is a bit odd given Whale Oil’s campaigning against Bill English and National, and their ongoing campaign against Simon Bridges

    I don’t find this odd at all. On the contrary you don’t have to be loyal to someone in order to summon up enough goodwill to wish them well

    Reply
    • Farrar wasn’t just wishing him well. He was promoting a website (websites, old and new) that ran campaigns against past National Prime Ministers and against National in the last election. And are running a campaign against the leader of the National Party. Promoting that seems odd to me for someone who seems to be a staunch and loyal National Party person.

      Reply
  6. phantom snowflake

     /  4th August 2019

    In other news: Slater’s soulmate and fellow Malignant Narcissist Dermot Nottingham fails (predictably) to have his convictions for criminal harassment and breaching suppression orders overturned.
    https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=12235806

    Reply
    • Thanks, I thought that news should be out soon. I’ll be doing a post on it when I get more details.

      It doesn’t surprise me that his appeals (conviction and sentence) failed. He had already served his 12 months home detention (that finished about a week ago). He had a further six month ban on using the Internet, I don’t know if that has been affected by the appeal.

      It also doesn’t surprise me that the Crown appeal against his sentence failed. Appeals will sometimes get sentences reduced, but I haven’t seen one increased so presume it’s uncommon.

      Reply
      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  4th August 2019

        No, the Crown’s appeal was allowed but he didn’t go to prison because of the length of time already served.

        Reply
        • Ok, thanks. I can’t see the article behind the paywall.

          So Nottingham may have avoided prison because he succeeded in delaying the appeal until his home detention had been completed by the time the hearing and decision.

          Reply
          • Alan Wilkinson

             /  4th August 2019

            When analysing Nottingham’s sentence, the Court of Appeal judges arrived at 31 months’ imprisonment – about 30 per cent higher than Judge Down’s end point.

            However, in re-sentencing Nottingham, the trio of judges was “obliged” to take into account the three and a half months of home detention he had already served.

            “Allowing a seven-month discount in this respect again brings Mr Nottingham’s sentence to a level where the court is obliged to consider home detention.”

            The court quashed the existing, part-served, sentence and imposed a new 12 months’ home detention term, plus the 100 hours of community work for the suppression breach.

            Nottingham’s special conditions also remained, and include not using any electronic device capable of accessing the internet without prior approval from a probation officer.

            Reply
            • I don’t understand that he had only served three and a half months as he was sentenced in July last year. There must be some explanation for that.

              This sounds like he has a new 12 month home detention sentence starting with this judgment this week.

              I’m looking forward to seeing the judgment.

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