Trump versus Bannon escalates

Ex Trump campaigner and White House aid Steve Bannon has stirred things up with revelations in a book, and Trump via his lawyers has hit back with a cease and desist letter.

BBC: 10 explosive revelations from new Trump book

Donald Trump was “befuddled” by his election win, did not enjoy his inauguration and was scared of the White House, according to a new book.

Journalist Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House also purports to lift the lid on Ivanka Trump’s secret presidential ambitions.

1. Bannon thought Don Jr meeting ‘treasonous’

According to the book, former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon thought a meeting between Donald Trump Jr and a group of Russians was “treasonous”.

Bannon reportedly said the Justice Department investigation into links between the Trump campaign and Moscow would focus on money laundering, adding: “They’re going to crack Don Junior like an egg on national TV.”

2. Trump ‘befuddled’ by his victory

In an article for NYMag adapted from his book, Wolff describes the amazement – and dismay – in the Trump camp at his November 2016 election win.

“Shortly after 8pm on Election Night, when the unexpected trend – Trump might actually win – seemed confirmed, Don Jr told a friend that his father, or DJT, as he calls him, looked as if he had seen a ghost. Melania was in tears – and not of joy. There was, in the space of little more than an hour, in Steve Bannon’s not unamused observation, a befuddled Trump morphing into a disbelieving Trump and then into a horrified Trump. But still to come was the final transformation: Suddenly, Donald Trump became a man who believed that he deserved to be, and was wholly capable of being, the president of the United States.”

3. Trump ‘angry’ at inauguration

Wolff writes:

“Trump did not enjoy his own inauguration. He was angry that A-level stars had snubbed the event, disgruntled with the accommodations at Blair House, and visibly fighting with his wife, who seemed on the verge of tears. Throughout the day, he wore what some around him had taken to calling his golf face: angry and pissed off, shoulders hunched, arms swinging, brow furled, lips pursed.”

But the first lady’s office rejected the claims.

Communications director Stephanie Grisham said in a statement: “Mrs Trump supported her husband’s decision to run for President and in fact, encouraged him to do so. She was confident he would win and was very happy when he did.”

4. Trump found White House ‘scary’

Wolff writes:

“Trump, in fact, found the White House to be vexing and even a little scary. He retreated to his own bedroom – the first time since the Kennedy White House that a presidential couple had maintained separate rooms. In the first days, he ordered two television screens in addition to the one already there, and a lock on the door, precipitating a brief standoff with the Secret Service, who insisted they have access to the room.”

5. Ivanka hopes to be president

Mr Trump’s daughter and her husband Jared Kushner allegedly struck a deal that she might run for president in future, according to Wolff:

“Balancing risk against reward, both Jared and Ivanka decided to accept roles in the West Wing over the advice of almost everyone they knew. It was a joint decision by the couple, and, in some sense, a joint job. Between themselves, the two had made an earnest deal: If sometime in the future the opportunity arose, she’d be the one to run for president. The first woman president, Ivanka entertained, would not be Hillary Clinton; it would be Ivanka Trump. Bannon, who had coined the term ‘Jarvanka’ that was now in ever greater use in the White House, was horrified when the couple’s deal was reported to him.”

6. Ivanka mocks dad’s ‘comb-over’

The US first daughter poked fun at her father’s alleged “scalp-reduction surgery”, according to the book.

“She treated her father with a degree of detachment, even irony, going so far as to make fun of his comb-over to others.”

7. White House unsure of priorities

Katie Walsh, the White House deputy chief of staff, asked Mr Kushner, the president’s senior adviser, what the administration wanted to achieve.

But according to the book, Mr Kushner did not have an answer.

“‘Just give me the three things the president wants to focus on,’ she [Katie Walsh] demanded. ‘What are the three priorities of this White House?’ It was the most basic question imaginable – one that any qualified presidential candidate would have answered long before he took up residence at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Six weeks into Trump’s presidency, Kushner was wholly without an answer. ‘Yes,’ he said to Walsh. ‘We should probably have that conversation.'”

8. Trump’s admiration for Murdoch

Wolff, who previously wrote a biography of Rupert Murdoch, describes Mr Trump’s high regard for the News Corp media titan.

“Rupert Murdoch, who had promised to pay a call on the president-elect, was running late. When some of the guests made a move to leave, an increasingly agitated Trump assured them that Rupert was on his way. ‘He’s one of the greats, the last of the greats,’ Trump said. ‘You have to stay to see him.’ Not grasping that he was now the most powerful man in the world, Trump was still trying mightily to curry favor with a media mogul who had long disdained him as a charlatan and fool.”

9. Murdoch calls Trump ‘idiot’

But the admiration was not mutual, according to Wolff’s account of a call between Mr Murdoch and Mr Trump about the president’s meeting with Silicon Valley executives.

Mr Trump is said to have told Mr Murdoch:

“‘These guys really need my help. Obama was not very favorable to them, too much regulation. This is really an opportunity for me to help them.’ ‘Donald,’ said Murdoch, ‘for eight years these guys had Obama in their pocket. They practically ran the administration. They don’t need your help.’

‘Take this H-1B visa issue. They really need these H-1B visas.’Murdoch suggested that taking a liberal approach to H-1B visas, which open America’s doors to select immigrants, might be hard to square with his promises to build a wall and close the borders. But Trump seemed unconcerned, assuring Murdoch, ‘We’ll figure it out.’ ‘What a f****** idiot,’ said Murdoch, shrugging, as he got off the phone.”

10. Flynn knew Russia ties ‘a problem’

Former US National Security Adviser Mike Flynn knew that accepting money from Moscow for a speech could come back to haunt him, according to the book.

Wolff writes that before the election Mr Flynn “had been told by friends that it had not been a good idea to take $45,000 from the Russians for a speech. ‘Well it would only be a problem if we won,’ he assured them.”

That mostly seems quite lame, but people supposedly on Trump’s side calling him and idiot and saying actions of his son were treasonous aren’t a great look.

Trump’s reaction via his lawyer suggests he wasn’t very pleased – and guarantees maximum exposure.

ABC News: Trump attorney sends Bannon cease and desist letter over ‘disparaging’ comments

That sounds a tad ironic given Trump’s history of disparaging comments, but his lawyers claim a breach of confidentiality agreement.

Lawyers on behalf of President Donald Trump sent a letter Wednesday night to former White House Chief Strategist Stephen Bannon demanding he refrain from making disparaging comments against the president and his family.

Trump attorney Charles Harder said in a statement, “This law firm represents President Donald J. Trump and Donald J. Trump for President, Inc. On behalf of our clients, legal notice was issued today to Stephen K. Bannon, that his actions of communicating with author Michael Wolff regarding an upcoming book give rise to numerous legal claims including defamation by libel and slander, and breach of his written confidentiality and non-disparagement agreement with our clients. Legal action is imminent.”

In the letter to Bannon, Harder, writes, “You [Bannon] have breached the Agreement by, among other things, communicating with author Michael Wolff about Mr. Trump, his family members, and the Company [the campaign], disclosing Confidential Information to Mr. Wolff, and making disparaging statements and in some cases outright defamatory statements to Mr. Wolff about Mr. Trump, his family members.”

In the letter, Trump’s attorney says that “remedies for your breach of the agreement include but are not limited to monetary damages” though no dollar amount is disclosed.

During the campaign, then-candidate Trump had all campaign staff sign a non-disclosure agreement which required all staff, according to campaign sources, to refrain from any disparaging comments against the candidate, his family or the Trump campaign and organization.

Earlier Wednesday, Trump hit back at Bannon in scathing comments, saying that when Bannon was fired “he not only lost his job, he lost his mind”.

So it seems that Trump only has a double standard about disparaging comments.  Perhaps he didn’t sign a confidentiality agreement.

“Steve Bannon has nothing to do with me or my Presidency. When he was fired, he not only lost his job, he lost his mind. Steve was a staffer who worked for me after I had already won the nomination by defeating seventeen candidates, often described as the most talented field ever assembled in the Republican party,” the president said in a statement.

“Often described as the most talented field ever assembled” – good grief. Next thing he will claim to have defeated the strongest Democrat candidate ever.

“Now that he is on his own, Steve is learning that winning isn’t as easy as I make it look. Steve had very little to do with our historic victory, which was delivered by the forgotten men and women of this country. Yet Steve had everything to do with the loss of a Senate seat in Alabama held for more than thirty years by Republicans. Steve doesn’t represent my base — he’s only in it for himself.”

More irony. This could get uglier.

Another book from Hager?

Will Nicky Hager launch another book this year?

He only recently revealed he would be launching what turned out to be the book he co-wrote with Jon Stephenson, Hit & Run. Stephenson presumably did most of the investigating, and it was not a long book (I think not much over a hundred pages).

Before the launch it was said that the book wasn’t targeting or would affect the election campaign like Hager’s last book, Dirty Politics.

There’s time for another book launch before September. Does Hager have another book up his sleeve?

I’m just wondering, I haven’t heard anything about another Hager book this year. He manages to keep his launch plans fairly secret.

Ridiculous demands for urgent inquiry

Some media and some politicians are demanding an urgent, immediate inquiry into the Afghan attack the SAS were involved in. This is ridiculous.

Sound governance should not operate on the demands of the every shortening news cycle, nor on the demands of increasingly activist ‘journalists’ trying to create headlines.

The merits of the claims by Nicky Hager and Jon Stephenson on their book Hit & Run should be carefully assessed, and alternate views also have to be considered.

This will take time.More time than a journalist or pundit getting a book at 5:30 pm, making a pronouncement on the 6 o’clock news, reading the book overnight and leading the morning headlines with demands for instant action from Government.

The Minister of Defence and the head of the NZ Defence Force are out of the country until Saturday. They have to be consulted.

People taking more time and care than journalists jumping to conclusions based on a one sided book need to check through the claims – and ask questions, seek other views, and assess the merits of the claims.

Even Nicky Hager says that time is needed.

Mar 22, 2017 12:57 PM
Nicky Hager
I hope that politicians will have the sense to avoid dismissing any of the allegations we’ve put forward until they have really seriously looked at them and asked questions. I believe that this issue is not going to go away quickly, that we are going to end up with it being investigated over months or years, and it would be wise for all politicians to keep an open mind when they haven’t even had a chance to read the book.

The raid occurred in Afghanistan in 2010.

Hager and Stephenson have been working on the book since 2014.

Demanding action to fit with a ridiculously short news cycle is not only nuts, it’s irresponsible.

Bill English has been criticised for not taking decisive action. That can be expected from bloggers but journalists should know better – if they weren’t so encased in there instant news bubbles.

If in a couple of weeks or a couple of months the Government decides that an inquiry is justified – and that may well turn out to be the prudent option – the same journalists who didn’t  have their instant demands met, and a few politicians and bloggers, are likely to label it a flip flop or u-turn.

I want a Prime Minister who will consider serious issues – as the Afghan incident is – and will seek good advice before making decisions.

Bill English needs to sharpen up on how he deals with media howling for instant action.

But he is correct in taking his time considering how the Government should deal with the claims in the Hager/Stephenson book.

Sometimes Prime Ministers and Governments have to react quickly and decisively to events that happen.

An incident that happened 7 years ago, and claims in a book that has taken 3 years to write, don’t justify instant political action. To the contrary.

Very serious legal issues have been raised, including suggestions of possible war crimes.

A Government not only should but has to take time seeking sound legal advice. They should also allow other evidence to be presented.

Demands for an atom bomb instant reaction are more than ridiculous, they are also stupid.

‘Rumours’ about Key

As soon as John Key announced his retirement ‘rumours’ (or deliberate fake news attempts) started to do the rounds.

There were claims that Key resigned just before a book that was ‘very critical’ of him was published, he’d had an affair, he was fleeing a huge earthquake that was about to happen, Key was leaving to take up a job at the head of the IMF. At one stage Key was asked about these claims and he denied them.

The Spinoff listed Theories on why John Key resigned, ranked in order of stupidity:

7. There is going to be a huge earthquake on December 13 and John Key is fleeing

6. John Key had an affair with *insert name of anyone he has ever met here*

5. “Hidden economic reasons” (that only Winston Peters had foreseen)

4. Key was scared of a book AKA The Bomber Theorem

3. John Key wanted to spend more time with family

2. He wanted to spend more time with anyone except the MPs of the National Party

1. He wanted to make way for Prime Minister Valerie Adams

He said he really did want to spend more time with his family. No evidence has supported the rest so appear to be bunkum.

I saw another rumour variation yesterday – that the issue of North and South due out had a damaging article about Key. That has been debunked (by a strong Key critic):

The ‘big, secret story’ in North and South tomorrow is about Scott Watson, not about John Key being a shady bitch

Even though he is stepping down now the Key clobbering machine keeps swinging – and missing, except perhaps where stupid jokes are believed and get social media traction.

UK update – Conservatives

Update #1 from Missy in the UK:


The honeymoon is over for Theresa May as it appears that Cameron’s supporters are starting what one journalist has described as a concerted attack on May in order to destabilise her Government. It started with a speech given by George Osborne the other day criticising the Government’s economic policy and their response to Brexit, but the weekend is when it got interesting as David Cameron’s former Communications director, Craig Oliver – sorry make that SIR Craig Oliver (more on that later) – started flogging his book on the EU referendum, and parts have been leaked to the media.

Along with the predictable stuff about Johnson and Gove betraying the PM, and how they underestimated people’s views on immigration, and how they thought the economy would win it for them, there were a couple of pointed comments on Theresa May. For anyone here who has read my views regarding May’s referendum presence (or lack of) this will be no surprise.
According to Oliver it was suggested that May would back Brexit, so the PM called her had words and hung up on her, apparently satisfied he had made an impact. May then released a statement offering muted support to the Remain campaign.

Oliver accuses May of being a submarine during the referendum campaign – basically nowhere to be seen. She is being accused of not really supporting Remain, offering lukewarm support, and all the time plotting to bring down Cameron. Essentially he now believes that she only offered lukewarm support to the Remain side as she could not be seen going against the PM as Home Secretary.

Now, what the truth in this is, is anyone’s guess, but the idea that May was a Brexiter, but only supporting the PM as he was the PM is one that I have heard a number of times from UK people. Most say that May is a Brexiter from way back, and has always been a eurosceptic. This is leading some in the media to speculate it will be a hard Brexit, not a soft Brexit that many want as it will be almost like Remaining.

Another allegation in Oliver’s book is that May tried to stonewall the PM on the issue of immigration, he claims that she blocked his plans for an immigration brake, supposedly to help the leave campaign – and her future ambitions of being PM. However, many of her allies / supporters have come out today and denied this, saying it was May that wanted a brake on immigration and the PM ignored her.

One thing that is also notable is that May was apparently supposed to go with Cameron in February to try an negotiate a deal with the EU to try and stop the referendum, however, she ended up not going because she had a weekend away with her husband planned. This was when Cameron failed to get any significant concessions – especially in terms of free movement. Oliver suggests that this was deliberate so that she wouldn’t be tainted with the expected failed negotiations.

Book Controversies:

With regards to the book itself there are a number of controversies around it – and the author, summed up below:

  1. Craig Oliver is one of the people who received his knighthood when Cameron left office, it is considered by many to be tainted based on the way it was awarded.
  2. Many MP’s and Ministers have an active dislike of Oliver, and they are all airing their opinions now, the most common one is that many don’t think he was very good at his job, and also they have noted that he used to constantly write notes in meetings, and it was highly suspected that he was going to cash in on being the Communications Director for the PM.
  3. When a senior public official leaves their position they are not allowed (by law) to make any money from their position – or the knowledge gained whilst in the position – for at least 3 months, and then any position, or potential commercial matter, needs to be reviewed and approved. This means for anyone wanting to write a book they shouldn’t even be optioning it, let alone have it published and ready for sale, for at least 3 months, Oliver has been out of his job for 2 and a half months. It is viewed as being published with unseemly haste, but most recognise it is timed to be released before the Conservative Party Conference in a couple of weeks.

WaPo document archive on Trump

A book was published about Donald Trump last week – Trump Revealed

Trump’s response:


Washington Post’s response: ‘Trump Revealed’: The reporting archive

The Post is making public today a sizable portion of the raw reporting used in the development of “Trump Revealed,” a biography of the Republican presidential nominee published August 23 by Scribner. Drawn from the work of more than two dozen Post journalists, the archive contains 398 documents, comprising thousands of pages of interview transcripts, court filings, financial reports, immigration records and other material. Interviews conducted off the record were removed, as was other material The Post did not have the right to publish. The archive is searchable and navigable in a number of ways. It is meant as a resource for other journalists and a trove to explore for our many readers fascinated by original documents.

The archive is here.

NiemanLab responds: The Donald, documented: The Washington Post open-sources much of its Trump reporting

The Washington Post recently published a new biography of Donald Trump, for which the Republican nominee sat for more than 20 hours of interviews.

Now, in a welcome show of journalistic openness, the Post has published the raw materials that made up its reporting, including transcripts of those 20 hours with the Donald, for others to read — including other journalists.

Journalistic transparency is almost always a good thing — especially in the context of an extraordinarily contested race in which the media has been a frequent piñata, for reasons good and bad. (The Post has, at various times in this campaign, been both banned from covering Trump campaign events as press and given almost unthinkable candidate access for a book.) Like a data journalism project that releases its code on GitHub, or a documents-based investigation that puts its work on DocumentCloud, this effort by the Post is a move in the right direction. (via NZ Herald) responds: Massive 398-document archive on Donald Trump released they detail a number of fairly boring “things about the billionaire candidate we’ve learnt”:

  • Trump had a privileged upbringing
    Donald Trump benefited greatly from this, growing up in a world of wealth and privilege. He went to private school, was the only family in his neighbourhood to have a Cadillac, and was to follow his father’s business ventures.
  • Trump is proof celebrity life can be very lonely
    He himself admitted he doesn’t have a lot of people he can turn to. “He really doesn’t have the kinds of friendships that most people would describe… and never really has.” (so that goes back to well before ‘celebrity’ days)
  • Trump allegedly showed racial bias when renting his properties
    For example, an African-American man who went to inspect an apartment had his application denied, with the agent telling him there was no room. The following day his wife, a white woman, went for the exact same apartment, and was told they’d be delighted to have her.
  • Trump may have voted for Hillary Clinton 16 years ago
    When she was running for the US Senate of New York in 2001, he even had a fundraiser for the state Democratic Party in his apartment.
  • Trump may threaten you if you write a book about him
    “I just hope the book could be fair because, otherwise, you know, we’ll see what happens. But it would be nice if the book could be fair. But we’ll see.”
  • Trump (sort of) admitted he expressed initial support for invading Iraq
    In a 2002 Howard Stern interview, when Trump was asked if he was in favour of invading Iraq, he replied: “Yeah, I guess so. I wish the first time it was done correctly.”
  • Trump claimed he’s not an insulting person
    “I don’t feel I insult people. I don’t feel I insult people. I try and get to the facts and I don’t feel I insult people. I hear what you’re saying but I do not feel that I insult people. Now, if I’m insulted I will counterattack, or if something is unfair, I will counterattack, but I don’t feel like I insult people. I don’t want to do that.”
  • Trump refuses to believe his fans are insulting people
    The reporters asked Trump what he thought about his fans calling Hillary Clinton a “b*tch”, and wearing T-shirts that read: “Trump that b****”.
    “I have not heard that, I don’t like that. But I have not heard that. I would not be happy if I heard it. No, I have not heard it.”
  • Trump will hang up on you if he doesn’t like the question
    Donald Trump allegedly created his own press agent. The Post said he would call reporters saying his name was “John Miller”, but wouldn’t even bother to disguise his voice. He would then give them fake news tips, telling them he would be at glamorous events with glamorous people.
    Boburg: “Mr Trump, we just have two more questions and then we’ll let you run. The story today about John Miller. Did you ever employ someone named John Miller as a spokesperson? I think he hung up. I’m pretty sure he hung up.”

America’s response:



Journalist tweets a review of ‘Dodgy Unions’

Jessica Williams is radioLive political editor and has been described as (and she repeats on her Twitter profile) ‘Infuriatingly reasonable and honest’.

Last night she did a series of Tweet sized reviews of Cameron Slater’s book, ‘Dodgy Unions’.


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Alex makes a good point – is Cam allowed to use the coat of arms on his book that prominently?

Graeme Edgeler assured her that the use of the coat of arms was ok.

Yes he is. The Arms have not been used in a way that indicates that the book has eg the approval of the Government.

The law does not require MCH approval for all used of the arms.

Back to

I mean look at this just look at it omg you guys this is the best mail day evar

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That apparently is on the back cover. In fact there is apparently more than that:

Still promoting him self as a Dirty Politics thug, but still failing to deliver on his promise of a counter book on Hager’s ‘Dierty Politics’.

Anyway good grief i am SO looking forward to reading this. Wondering if I should take it with me to the crown accounts lockup.

Okay .. I’m going in.

It’s hard to go past the bit where Slater says Dirty Politics helped promote and expand his business. But I shall.

It’s also hard to believe that if Slater is talking about his Whale Oil business where he and Belt have been crying poor and fund raising to try and meet expenses since Dirty Politics was released last year.

Chapter 1. Cam starts by slagging off his old boss at LD Nathan. He was dirty, a thug and hated all the right things. Hm.

Cam was bullied bc he broke a strike. His work locker was vandalised! He was called a scab! Blimey

God this is all so quotable. Unionists didn’t mind being called dodgy but believe they were morally superior. WUT

“Unions, in my experience, are dodgy” (3rd mention. We are on p12).

Oh wait! Now dodgy in a different way, he says. This gon be a long night. unimpressed.

Chapter 1 ends with a plug for the tipline. Cam says he’ll raise questions the Union Movement needs to answer. Ok then.

Chapter 2. Unions get no scrutiny, Cam says. Except by members, shurely? He says unions “rape and pillage” members. Yuck.

This bit is SO GOOD I’m gonna photograph it. Discuss, show working, use extra sheet if necessary.

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“Even the Media and Parliament receive higher confidence ratings than unions”.

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I have no idea what that’s included for.

Chapter 2 ends saying union leaders don’t make vote winning politicians and “few” have taken seats from Nats

Big swig of tea and we are heading into Chapter 3 – understanding Union finances. This and the Crown accounts in one day!

So unions have lots of $, says Cam – $120m revenue – but don’t give much of it to Labour. Can’t tell if this good or bad

There are lots of figures in this bit. Lots of “left-wing commentators” pearl clutching. More tea

On to ch 4. Unions are not the same as the Labour Party, Cam says. Labour Party a poor cousin to the unions, Cam says.

Lots here about how Labour doesn’t get much $ from unions between elections. Fair. But then big rant about Lab’s bad fundraising record which seems a bit off topic to me. But hey, it’s Cam’s book and he’ll tangent if he wants to. It’s a fair point imho.

On to the unions’ role in Little’s election. (I’m stepping lightly over a v mean joke about a former MP btw. Family show).

Ok nah not that juicy. The unions had a lot of say over Little’s election. No outcry, says Cam. Funny, I remember some.

Now Cam is talking about why more unionists don’t get elected as MPs. This is a decent question. But it’s not answered.

“The best and brightest .. are either not wishing to run, or are absolutely hopeless”. See? No answer really.

WAIT I stand (sit) corrected. Unionists don’t get elected bc of “inherent lack of likability” and unpleasant campaigning.

Right. Unions and Labour agree on campaigning against Nats. Like the Corrections Assn/Davis against Serco. Take THAT.

See – I don’t see the big WTF about that. Nats work with business. Labour with unions. ‘Twas ever thus, no? ONWARDS.

Why is Labour so beholden to unions? Good question, no answer. But I BET I know who this MP is.

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Chapter 5 starts with a sledge about how the NZ political media are more willing to chase irrelevancies than do research.

Right. Now we are on to Little’s time at the EPMU. Cam explains how hard it is to find their accounts online. Hm

Cam reckons $6m went “missing” at the EPMU under Little. Ok let’s see.

And there’s just a whole heap of questions now. I *think* Cam is saying a loan was made to a body that no longer trades.

But no answers! Just questions and a spiel about democracy needing answers. It’s like Guess Who Don’t Sue.

Like – these are good questions, don’t get me wrong. But did Cam ask them of anyone? He should have, seriously.

That’s what a journalist would have done? But now he’s wearing his new ‘Author’ hat.

Ok, ch 6. Dodgy unions in Australia. “Begging the question” about whether NZ unions face the same problems (it says here).

I am a total arse I know, but “begging the question” is misused SO much and it pisses me off. Anyway. Onwards.

Ok TL;DR. Aus unions super dodgy. Are ours like this? We don’t know bc LACK OF SCRUTINY says Cam but tipline suggests so.

Chapter 7. Are we there yet? No. This is a list of questions for unions. Really.

Oh wait there are questions for the Nats! Which can be summed up as “why haven’t you crushed unions with an iron fist?!”

WAIT! Appendices!! That means the book itself is over! is bringing me a beer. Don’t worry I am still going.

Ok. Lots of figures. Specific questions for unions. Education unions get a particularly hard time.

OKAY SO if you are all still with me? I have ACTUAL RECKONS.

As many noted, the book is written in large type, double spaced. In a way that is good. Cam’s style can be, uh, intense.

I thought someone was joking when they said it was in large type, double spaced. It’s not quite double spaced but theires quite a bit of white space.

I did actually find it an interesting read. There *are* valid questions to ask about Labour and the unions and symbiosis.

And one would expect in a book about it, answers.

Problem is, the book asks questions in the hope (I guess) that someone else will answer them. The book should have.

Either that, or the Qs are there to cast a vaguely sinister light – there may be mundane reasons but we don’t know them.

I wasn’t expecting a right of reply or anything. But as a journo, Cam could put these questions himself. But he doesn’t.

This is how he frequently blogs – asks questions without finding the answers, or spinning things out so that if the answers ever appear the questioning has been forgotten.

Anyway. I do vaguely look forward to whatever Cam writes next. I just want substance, not rhetoric.

When announcing his first book (of many) Slater said it gave him the opportunity to look at issues in far more depth than on his blog.

This sounds like an extended repeat of past blog posts with more questions than answers – similar to a lot of his blogging.

As others have said it appears that once again Slater has over promised and under delivered.

He’ll find future books (if any more eventuate) a hard sell unless he substantially ups his authoring and publishing game.

If this was intended as another fund raiser I think he may be disappointed.

And the image of Slater as the big boy of Dirty Politics, the supreme shit kicker, is contradicted by the reality that looks like little more than skid marks in underpants – a bit of a smear but nothing much of substance.

Dodgy Unions – review

There is now a proper review of Cameron Slater’s book ‘Dodgy Unions’ on Amazon. John W posted a comment here:

I took the plunge purchased it, read it and reviewed it. It’s up on the Amazon page. It’s a disappointing short book, short on new info, short on analysis.

His review on Amazon:

Remarkably disappointing.
By JKastNZ on October 13, 2015
2/5 stars

Given that this book has had two reviews, one by one of the contributors of the whaleoil blog (and this review was immediately removed when its dodgy self promotion was turned into the sunlight) and now a review by someone who hasn’t yet read the book. I thought having purchased and read the book I should post a review.

Several points

– This book is very short. The description of the forthcoming print edition is 100 pages. I have 100 pages on my reader, and most of this is blank space. The formatting makes it easy to read but it has padded the page count considerably. In addition a lot of the book is self repeating. For example various unattributed quotes and messages from ‘labour party insiders’ are repeated several times adding no real value (although it does serve to extend the page count). Likewise the tables in the chapters of the book are repeated in the appendixs for no particular reason that i I can see.

– This book repeats a lot of information found at the whaleoil blog. In particular a number of comments in the book seem to be similar to what commentator wiseowl was suggesting over there about union finances (around a year ago if memory serves me correctly). The only new piece of information that I found was some comments about a $6 million dollar loan made from the EMPU to a subsidiary several years ago. If you are a whaleoil follower looking for new information this is not the book for you.

– The book is short on analysis. This is disappointing as it is billed as presenting more analysis than a blog post. Some examples – of the seven chapters, chapter 6 is entirely devoted to retelling some Union scandals in Australia. This is hardly relevant to NZ and seems like a waste of space.

There are some figures that have been pulled from the Union Accounts, and some questions (listed in question form) about these, but no detailed analysis. For example whilst pulling out the total wage bill and highlighting it from accounts has been done, there is no comparison by locating the total number of employees and then working out the average wage per employee per union, or comparing expenses to other organisations with similar turnovers.

Likewise the book makes mention of the “Equity” of unions. The author says that this he uses the word equity to refer to the “extremely large cash reserves” (Chapter 3) of the unions. This is problematic as that is not what the equity on the unions balance sheet will reflect and I’m not sure I believe the claim given the above issues that the unions looked at have cash reserves of $122 million.

There has been no consideration that the Unions may have done what my local bridge club has done and purchased a building 40 years ago (or in the union’s case several buildings) and just sat on it accumulation equity. In my experience not for profits tend to do this and wind up with a healthy dose of equity. But again this in depth analysis is missing.

– The last point I wish to make is that the book is short on attributable quotes. There are lots of unattributed stories and and comments (mostly from Labour insiders about union finances). I’m left confused as to whether this is one person, two people, more, their location in the party, etc.

In conclusion this book is short, short on new information, short on analysis, and short in actual length. It does read well (and for that it gets an additional star) but I would be hard pressed to think of a situation where I would recommend it. I’m disappointed enough to consider asking for a refund.

A response from ‘Guest’:

@John W
I read it. You were generous with your stars. Seems CS over-promised and under-delivered. Do you feel embarrassed for him?

Slater should know one of the rules of politics – under promise and over deliver. It applies to books to.

Nicky Hager promised nothing and delivered a huge blow to Slater’s club of clobberers. How many booklets will it take before Slater delivers on his promised counter punch to ‘Dirty Politics’?

Which B Edwards?

The first (and currently only) review of Cameron Slater’s book Dodgy Unions on Amazon:

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful

By B Edwards on October 11, 2015

Didn’t want to like it, but it is unique both in New Zealand politics and political books, and for that alone it needs to exist. Although Cam Slater’s personal distaste of unions is clear and provided as a rider from page 1, the actual content appears factual. The main take-away point for me is that Labour allow themselves to be controlled by the union movement but are actually getting very little in return. If the book achieves anything, I would hope it makes the Labour Party take note and change its direction in proportion.

This has raised some speculation on Twitter about which B Edwards.

Not moi!

Not me either.

Bryce Edwards hasn’t responded yet, but he hasn’t been on Twitter since 9th October.


Bryce Edwards

Wtf! Definitely not me! It’s a conspiracy against us “B Edwards” people.

‘Dodgy Unions’ – details

The launch of Cameron Slater’s first book, Dodgy Unions, was marred by scant and sometimes misleading information about the book. Now it is available as a Kindle download from Amazon it has more details.

Dodgy Unions Kindle Edition

The Union movement has occupied a privileged position in New Zealand. It is a vastly wealthy, incredibly well resourced sector with a staggering amount of money.

The headline figures are the Union movement has combined equity of well over $120 million dollars. Unions’ revenues are over $120m per year. Unions’ wage bill is over $70m per year, meaning they have a massive and ideologically pure work force. Most unions make a significant surplus, with the Corrections Association making a surplus of almost half their annual revenue.

Unions seem to live in parallel moral universe where they can do no wrong. They escape scrutiny and live in an echo chamber. They do not realise that they are the group that New Zealand public has the least trust in. This book uses publicly available information to tell New Zealand the story of the unions financial might.

Cameron Slater is New Zealand’s most popular and most fearless political blogger. He has been blogging since 2005 and has broken numerous political stories including Mayor Andrew Williams pissing on a tree outside his offices, the Labour Party’s web site security flaw and the Len Brown Sex Scandal. In 2014 his emails were hacked and Nicky Hager wrote the book “Dirty Politics” which has helped promote and expand Cam’s political consulting and social media business.

The price is $8.79 (presumably US$).

Product details:

  • File Size: 1159 KB
  • Print Length: 100 pages
  • Publisher: Whaleoil Media; 1 edition (October 10, 2015)
  • Publication Date: October 10, 2015
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English

So at 100 pages it’s not a long read.

  • Dirty Politics is 166 pages.
  • Trinity by Leon Uris is 759 pages.
  • Mother Tongue by Bill Bryson is 270 pages (a very interesting read).

If anyone wants to read and review it I’d be happy to post here.