Dirty politics?

Anne at The Standard:

I hear tell Cameron Slater and co. are advertising through the appropriate channels for prospective right wing trolls to attend an urgently arranged training session. It has yet to be confirmed whether a payment for their services will be made, but assurances (in writing) to the successful candidates that they will receive preferential treatment by the parental political body is definitely forthcoming. (satire)

Who is playing dirty here?

Whale Oil slump

Whale Oil has been trying to trash Bill English since he became Prime Minister and they have been trying to trash National since New Zealand along with all other countries in the security voted in December to censure Israel, except the US who abstained.

This morning ‘Cameron Slater’ tries to connect the poll result to their anti-English and anti-National agenda: First poll of year sees Nats slump 4 points, thanks Murray

National has slumped 4 points int he latest 1News/Colmar Brunton poll.

Winston Peters is in the box seat, but Bill English must be regretting letting Murray McCully run rogue at the UN Security Council. This is the cost.

National has started the slide to a number starting with 3.

Bill English better get well acquainted with Winston Peters…and he better sort out Murray McCully or this drop will be just the start.

That’s nonsensical analysis, it’s just trying to justify WO’s doom and gloom predictions with what is actually a fairly consistent poll result. National results since October 2015: 47, 47, 50, 48, 48, 50, 46 so 46% is nothing like a slump.

In fact National have been polling consistently within a fairly narrow band since 2012 with low points 4-5 years ago.

Slater is demonstrating again that he uses Whale Oil for political activism rather than as credible media alternative.

Notably Slater’s slant is largely unsupported in comments so far.

Wilson: Some in the media were saying the first poll will have a 3 in front of it. So 46% is great.

Curly1952: I believe the drop to 46% for National was to be expected as JK was the glue to the party.

As far as the McCully factor goes I would suggest that large swathes of the electorate won’t even consider the UN resolution as part of the political barometer in NZ.

Most of the electorate are unlikely to be aware of the UN vote, or won’t care about it.

Omlete:I think the broad electorate have enough native smarts to not want the wreckers/ haters and unionist thugs on the treasury benches. It will be a National led government.

Ross:On what evidence exactly do you blame Murray?

Korerorero: I don’t thinks it’s that bad. National was on 50% in the last colmar poll.
So this is probably a correction to be in line with the other polls which had Nats around 46%. I think you’ll see nats stay around this number (or possible rise again) after their budget surprise that will leave labour shell shocked and the voters happy.

The only one supporting Slater’s agenda was ‘Positan’:

It’s not a correction. Within my many circles there was utter disbelief at the Christmas Eve announcement of NZ’s position on Res:2334 – and then anger bordering on outrage at English’s failure to front during the holidays and explain. The anger grew with the continued failure of any senior Nat to front – especially, with the empty silly letters issued by pressured Nat MPs.

Next, there were the circulating stories as to how English & Co had believed the whole matter would be blown over by the end of the holidays – the reason for the deafening silence – which has wrought the real damage of “my party vote will go elsewhere,” and “sorry, no extra donation this year.”

If National’s members are saying those sorts of things out loud now – that’s why the 46% figure has happened. English has completely misread his party’s membership’s feelings and he’s blown it. I think National’s poll figures could get very much worse.

That sounds very similar to some of the anti-National posts over the last two months.

Of course National’s poll figures could get worse, but there is no discernible effect on them from the UN vote against Israel, and this poll result is only being called a slump by Slater and some desperadoes at The Standard.

The only slump shown here is in Whale Oil credibility as a political analyst.

Whale Oil dirty and inconsistent

Missy posted:

Whaleoil have a post about the call from the HRC for the Govt to apologise about Child Abuse in State Care, supported by Jacinda Ardern. What caught my attention is the headline: Socialist Cindy, the childless champion of children

I am sorry, but her being childless should be irrelevant, I think that is just nasty to say that about her. There was a similar (sort of) situation here during the Conservative Party leadership election when it seemed one of the candidates kept prefacing every comment with ‘as a mother I….’, this was a direct dig at Theresa May who had no children, and the inference is that people with no children have no empathy – Cameron Slater is using the same tactic here. Pete tries to justify it, but in my view it is still shoddy on their part, and stigmatising Jacinda for not being a mother, and detracting from the point of the article – whether you agree or not with it.

I agree that having a dig at someone for being childless is nasty. perhaps this is some of the ‘more dirty’ that Slater has been talking about doing this year.

As Missy says, Pete Belt tries to defend the indefensible.

Spambot42: How is Cindy being childless relevant to the content of the article and the entirely relevant point you made about it…?

Pete Belt: She is the shadow minister for children. If they appointed a chinese person as minister of maori affairs, that would be notable. So, so is a childless woman being a children’s advocate.

BayPomNZ: She has been a child at some point in time so perhaps your analogy isn’t quite correct. I agree with spambot42 that being childless is completely irrelevant to ifnshed do a good job or not.

Pete Belt: It remains a factual statement. It is up to the reader to decide if it is relevant. As a parent, knowing what I thought about parenting and children before I became a parent, and what I know now, I feel confident in saying that a childless person can no understand what it is like to to have children and how their needs, thoughts and lives are experienced.

It may be a factual statement but it’s both nasty and stupid.

It’s ridiculous to suggest that any spokesperson role in politics is only credible if the person has been a mother, been a general, been a policeman, been a child in a sole parent family, been a property investor, been a tax evader etc etc.

Truby King founded Plunket and did a lot to teach mothers domestic hygiene and childcare, but he had never been a mother. That doesn’t negate what he achieved in reducing infant mortality. He also improved nutrition at the Seacliff psychiatric hospital, but I’m not aware of him having been a mental patient.

The Whale Oil headline is a dirty dig at Ardern, typical of Slater’s approach to politics. Talking of which, Slater has never been an MP, by Belt’s standards that means Slater being a political advocate is something worthy of taunting and degrading.

This just highlights the fact that Whale Oil is largely a political activist blog, and having never been a real journalist his attempts to portray his blog as an alternate new media should be rubbished by Belt, if he was to be consistent.

Colin Craig wins defamation case

In contrast to some significant legal losses Colin Craig has had a win in a defamation case against ex-Conservative Party board member John Stringer. The case has been settled out of court prior to a scheduled hearing in March.

1 News: Colin Craig celebrates win in defamation case against former Conservative Party board member

Former Conservative Party leader Colin Craig is celebrating winning a defamation case against a former member of the party’s board, John Stringer.

The High Court in Christchurch yesterday issued a judgement confirming that Mr Craig had been defamed by Mr Stringer.

Mr Stringer was found to have defamed Mr Craig in various statements that alleged Mr Craig had sexually harassed his former press secretary Rachel McGregor and one or more other women, and in various statements that alleged Mr Craig had committed business or electoral fraud.

Mr Stringer has retracted his statements, apologised to Mr Craig and settled the matter by payment of a confidential sum.

Mr Craig’s statement said that in 2014 he came under attack from two bloggers, Mr Stringer of CoNZervative Blog and Whaleoil blogger Cameron Slater.

Both Craig and Stringer have had previous court setbacks in this case.

Slater may now be reviewing his optimistic predictions. He had a major win against Craig when a judge ruled a copyright claim by Craig to be vexatious – see The judgement arrives: Colin Craig cops another one in the chook. Craig is appealing that but he is at real risk there of being seen to be doubling down on vexatiousness.

As well as that there is more to come. Craig is appealing the massive award against him after Jordan Williams one his defamation case.

Also Stringer has a counter claim against Craig for defamation, and Slater also has a claim of defamation against Craig.

NZ Herald: Confidential financial settlement in defamation case between Colin Craig and former Conservative Party board member John Stringer

The former Conservative Party leader sued a board member for defamation. So why is another trial still going ahead?

Stringer confirmed the defamation case against him had been settled, with a confidential financial payment, by consent yesterday.

However, Stringer added his counter-defamation claim against Craig was still going ahead.

He said this is scheduled for June, shortly after another defamation trial between Craig and Whale Oil blogger Cameron Slater.

It’s quite possible Craig could be found to have also defamed Stringer in what was an ugly tit for tat public spat.

There seems to be a lot of money and ego involved in all of this.

It will be interesting to see how Whale Oil reports on this settlement.

The decision does not appear to be online yet. Here are previous decisions in the case:

Who wrote the posts?

There has long been questions about the actual authorship of posts at Whale Oil under the name ‘Cameron Slater’. This is inadvertently raised again yesterday in a post where Slater describes his recent illness problems in How am I feeling?

I thought as it is nearly the end of January I’d give you an update on how I am feeling and what has happened since December 26.

After we returned from our Boxing Day lunch with the outlaws, a day where I spent most of it lying on a couch taking Panadol for a stonking headache, I went into my office to prepare posts for the blog for the next day.

My face, on the right-hand side, had slumped, and I couldn’t move it. I couldn’t raise my eyebrows, smile, grin, or even grimace. Half of my face was paralysed and it became more apparent when I couldn’t drink out of a glass because it spilt out of my half paralysed mouth.

On 27 December, I awoke in even more pain, and the paralysis was worse.

For the next few days, I lay in bed unable to get up due to the incredible pain and the Gabapentin and Tramadol barely touched it. It was excruciating.

I don’t even remember New Year’s Eve I was unable to get out of pain and finally, on 8 January, I cracked and couldn’t take it anymore.

It took another week to get in to see them and I spent all that time high as a kite but also suffering shivers, shakes and jolts of pain that broke through all the Gabapentin and Morphine.

He goes on in detail. It sounds awful for anyone to have to suffer like that.

This was now the middle of January. I had spent every day since the 27th lying flat on my back in a drug induced haze.

The supervisor gave us his diagnosis which was that I had a severe viral infection inside my head as well as Bell’s Palsy. It was a huge relief to finally know what had been causing all the pain.

It was only in this past week that I have been able to rise from my bed, but it is still debilitating. I am at best a half day man at the moment and am still on some pain killers and the last of the viral infection sticks around.

I am finally on the mend after a month in extreme pain and discomfort.

Meanwhile Whale Oil kept operating.

Of course in the meantime, I have had a blog to run and I have put a dreadful imposition during holiday time on Pete and SB to keep it running. I would have lucid moments and would furiously send links to either of them with a few short comments on the spin I wanted…but that was about it. They did a magnificent job and still are doing a magnificent job as I recover.

Pete and SB have stepped up and kept things going in Slater’s virtual absence. Good on them for that.

What caused the illness?

Well, my doctors and specialists are in no doubt that the stress of dealing with multiple vexatious litigants and the financial pressures associated with that has caused this. It is well known that Bells Palsy is stress related.

Ongoing legal issues, especially with Colin Craig, will certainly be stressful. Some of Craig’s actions have indeed been described as vexatious by a judge in a ruling. And this will no doubt cause financial stress.

But Slater is responsible  for some of his many problems. He still says he loves playing dirty so it’s hardly surprising he will get mud flung back at him. He has chosen to get involved in vexatious legal actions himself.

Nothing excuses the legal excesses of Craig but Slater provoked a reaction, he just happened to get a gross overreaction.

If you play with fire as much and as often as Slater there is bound to be some blow back and burning.

Back to authorship at Whale Oil. Slater has described in detail how debilitating his illness has been.

While the number of posts under ‘SB’ and ‘Whale Oil Staff’ increased during Slater’s illness there were also ongoing posts under ‘Cameron Slater’.

For example on December 31 there were seven posts under ‘Cameron Slater’ – a period Slater describes “For the next few days, I lay in bed unable to get up due to the incredible pain and the Gabapentin and Tramadol barely touched it. It was excruciating.” And “I don’t even remember New Year’s Eve I was unable to get out of pain”.

These posts were generally just quotes of other things, but many Slater posts these days consist mainly of quotes, including from media sources he otherwise savages when they aren’t providing him with material.

This highlights an ongoing credibility problem with Whale Oil. The authorship of posts continues to be questionable – both who has actually written the posts, and on what basis the material is provided.

I hope Cam’s health continues to improve – and perhaps once the fog of medications lifts he and his Whale Oil staff could consider being clearer about attribution of authorship.

Fake authorship does not look good. If they want to be taken seriously as an alternative media then they should act honestly professionally.

Whale ill

Cameron Slater has posted at Whale Oil that he is suffering from a debilitating illness – Quick update on my health – it turned out to be not very quick as he responded with details a number of times in comments through the day, and has also commented on it on Facebook.

He says that it is stress related, after a tough year last year.

The stresses of 2016 have come home to roost, and it is something else I can thank Colin Craig and others for.  I’ll make sure I’ll bring this up as one of the outcomes of what happens when a rich angry man uses the courts for personal leverage without any merit to the case.   His last court room encounter with me was thrown out as vexatious before it even went to trial.  So I’m somewhat annoyed my left brain has decided to go all sookie on me and chuck it all in for a bit.

Jokes aside, I’m not in great shape.  I can barely work.  I’m on morphine to keep the worst of the pain at bay.  But you know me, I can still take and make phone calls, and I have a great team I can dictate, direct and delegate to so it is business as usual.

The others at Whale Oil say they are doing more to keep things ticking over on the blog but some are still appearing under the authorship of Slater.

When Slater recovers enough to think things through clearly he should do more than just blame others – it would be an opportune time for him to re-evaluate his approach to blogging.

Many of his old sources seem to have dried up since the ‘Dirty Politics revelations, so continuing to promote himself as a dirty political activist, and promising to get dirtier this year, doesn’t seem a very smart approach.

Slater could be incisive and hard hitting without resorting to murkier dirtier tactics – if he actually tried to be a well informed new media journalist rather than trying to be dirtier and click batier than the old media he keeps criticising he may be able to reinvent Whale Oil as an effective and credible media site.

One problem with Whale Oil is their commitment to half hour posts . This often results in repeats on the same topics, many times on some topics, which either look like fillers, or like promoting an agenda. There are too many petty repeats of whine-posts.

An emphasis on quality rather than quantity would declutter the daily post lists and would probably attract more interest. When skimming 20-30 post titles it’s easy to miss worthwhile posts.

Slater would do well to reassess his approach to blogging. He may not only improve Whale Oil, potentially substantially, but also reduce his stress levels. The latter may be essential if he wants to recover properly and avoid any recurrence of stress induced illness.

A tighter, better focussed and less dirty Whale Oil would be more effective as a media site and also as a political activist site. And it may mean the difference between blog and blogger surviving online or not.

Disgraceful Whale Oil comments

Whale Oil has claimed for some time that they have cleaned up their comments and that they don’t allow anything nasty.

From their usually strictly enforced ‘commenting and moderation’ rules:

  • Do not threaten to kill, harm or otherwise injure anyone, even in jest. Don’t think that you can get away with clever language like “I propose a lead injection”, or similar.
  • If you see someone else troll DO NOT REPLY. If you reply, you risk being seen as part of the problem (no, we don’t care “who started it”).

From their General Debate comments today:

slateronmentalhealthpatient

That’s three blog owners and moderators making despicable comments about someone who clearly has severe mental health problems.

Whale Oil claim they have cleaned up their comments but this makes it clear that doesn’t apply to the site censors.

It is very unlikely the target of these disgraceful comments will read them, but this sends a clear signal to Whale Oil readers and commenters that nasty is back, big time.

SB, you are welcome to explain here. It wasn’t you making the comments but you have claimed your comments are clean and criticised other blog comments for being disgraceful in the past.

Slater’s suggestions he would get dirtier this year seems to be already evident. Back to the worst of Whale Oil?

National ‘deserve my enmity’

I’m not sure if this is a threat to National or explaining past behaviour.

But it now places me in a dilemma. I can no longer support the National party. They have sided with demagogues, oligarchs, dictators, socialists and anti-Semites to stick it to Israel. They do not deserve my support, they deserve my enmity.

That is Cameron Slater in NZ’s shame: McCully sides with terrorists and votes against democracy

However Slater has been showing quite a degree of enmity towards National for quite some time. It’s been a couple of years since John Key distanced himself from Slater and demoted Judith Collins, and since then Slater has been unhappy with many things about national.

He has recently frequently trashed Bill English, Steven Joyce and Murray McCully, and has paid particularly attention to running down Paula Bennett who he perhaps sees as the biggest threat to Collins’ diminishing leadership hopes.

He made Bradbury-like assessments on Collins’ chances in the party leadership, like in National contenders: What is their path to victory?

Her path to victory is much clearer and easier than Bill English’s.

It turned out that Collins never had a chance.

She might jeopardize nationals chances. But Bill definitely will.

Since Collins failed he seems to have been intent jeopardise National’s chances in next year’s election.

Should National lose in next year’s election it may give Collins a chance of emerging from the likely mess, but there seems to be a very slim chance of that.

So saying he “can no longer support the National party” is a bit of a laugh. All this latest WO campaign shows is that the enmity continues while things don’t work out for Slater’s political interests.

Hasn’t he said he won’t support National before? He sure has, see this post on 8th December 8 – Collins withdraws and Bully Bill gets to be PM:

For my part I can no longer support the National party that is led by Bill English. I expect an immediate tanking in the polls.

Unfortunately, it appears that John Key’s legacy will one of wrecking a successful government, but I will write more on that later today.

It is a sad day for the National party, and even though I am not a member of any party I can no longer support the National party.

I don’t think the National Party will be too worried about losing his support, again. And:

Nope won’t be voting Act.

That doesn’t leave him many options on the right, apart from continuing his with his enmity.

Whale Oil on UN vote on Israel

It’s no surprise to see hard out support from Slater for the Israeli position after the UN Security Council voted 14-0 against them over settlements on disputed or private land in the Middle East.

There has been a string of supporting posts for Israel and against anyone involved in the vote against them by Slater. And he has often written (or had material supplied for) pro-Israel posts for years.

There have been 81 posts at Whale Oil tagged ‘Israel’ so far this year, and 209 since 1 January 2015.Of course they can post whatever they like, and many of these have only minor references to Israel (albeit tagged by the author) but this is a remarkable focus on Israel for a New Zealand blog.

And if you go back about 250 ‘Israel’ tagged posts, to August 2014, there are a string of posts reporting on a visit Slater made to Israel – a trip in part paid for by the Israel government.

Stuff reported at the time: Blogging, money and blurred lines

The man at the centre of the Dirty Politics firestorm sits on a leafy street in Tel Aviv, Israel, just a block from the shores of the Mediterranean, sipping a blended mint lemonade.

Cameron “Whale Oil” Slater is bleary-eyed, having spent 24 hours on a plane, and now finds himself in a war zone during a ceasefire. It’s Friday in Israel; Saturday back home.

He’s one of a group of international journalists invited to visit by the Israeli government, which has been earning bruising international condemnation over the civilian death toll in the Gaza conflict.

The Israeli embassy approached him about the trip, he says, and covered some costs, but he is paying for a significant portion of his travels. He has posted anti-Hamas and pro-Israel stories on his blog in the past.

And has continued to do that. Interesting that the Israeli embassy approached Slater.

The arrangement may sound vaguely familiar to anyone who has read certain chapters of Nicky Hager’s controversial new book Dirty Politics, which is based on thousands of emails stolen from Slater’s computer.

Besides his central claims that National used Slater’s Whale Oil blog as an conduit for “dirty” attacks on its political enemies, Hager also says Slater took cash in exchange for running stories for a range of commercial clients.

He writes that certain articles posted under Slater’s name were word-for-word reprints of material supplied by PR man Carrick Graham, whose clients include tobacco and alcohol companies. Hager writes that Slater was paid around $6500 a month by Graham, for work he estimates would have taken perhaps an hour.

When asked if he received any payment from Graham, his company or associates, and whether there was any understanding that he would run copy for that payment, Slater gives an emphatic “No”. He stands by his byline.

“Any copy I am using, I’ve had direct input into – I may have helped write it, I’ve certainly edited it.

“There are large corporates that I work with. They have particular issues and as a result of that those issues are then turned into an interesting story. I take stories, create stories, work on stories, provide commentary on a number of different things and whatever takes my fancy at the time.”

The Security Council vote against Israel seems to have taken Slater’s “fancy at the time”. Since the vote was announced these posts have been on Whale Oil:

The focus on the UN vote stands out amongst otherwise mostly Christmas or trivial posts.

Whether it’s a personal or a financial interest it’s a topic that Slater certainly fancies quite a bit.

Trying to fool who?

Yesterday Cameron Slater claimed at Whale Oil:

This blog has a longstanding position of not taking sides in any National selection, believing that the local electorate are by far the best people to select their candidate. Any interfering from outside the electorate, or skullduggery in the electorate needs to be outed, so the locals know who is trying to manipulate them, or ratfuck a candidate.

Is he taking the piss? Does he really believe that? Or does he think others might believe it?

The Whale Oil blog has a long history of appearing to interfere in National selections, interfering in local body elections, interfering in national elections and interfering in just about anything in politics.

Whale Oil sometimes tries to present itself as a new and better way of doing media, but more often than not appears like an old school activist trying to influence political outcomes – one of the more prominent examples being the attempt to overthrow Len Brown just after he one the 2013 Auckland mayoralty.

I doubt anyone was surprised to see Slater promoting Judith Collins and attacking Bill English and Paula Bennett repeatedly in the National leadership contests. This has continued after the selections were made. Old grudges ? Or trying to influence the election and the next leadership battle?

Slater has been stirring things up in the National candidate selection in Clutha-Southland. There seems to be some old grudges involved, and when he gets involved like he is there – a steady stream of posts attacking sides or individuals – then I’m sure I’m not alone in wondering what his motive is this time.

Like his persistent focus on local body elections in Marlborough this year. Coincidentally or not his associate and political gun for hire Simon Lusk seemed to be involved to some extent as well.

Two days ago Slater posted:

The other day I exposed four members of the “Evil Six” in Clutha-Southland who are mounting a bitter and twisted rear guard action against sitting MP Todd Barclay. Local delegate Lloyd Anderson coined the phrase the “Evil Six” who are out trying to rat-fuck Todd Barclay.

Slater may genuinely be trying to expose electorate selection skulduggery, but I’d be surprised if many people believe him.

I can remember a candidate selection in Northland where Slater was heavily involved, especially in trying to discredit one of the contenders. This included making some fairly seedy allegations involving the family of the candidate.

And Slater has recently said he will play as dirty or dirtier next year.

His problem is that as a political activist he has become tainted – he is more likely to damage rather than help those he goes in to bat for. Perhaps this is a cunning reverse attack strategy, but given his strong support for Collins and his string of attacks against English and Bennett I doubt that was the case there.

But any of his political attacks are likely to be looked on with suspicion by most people.

The mainstream media he ironically keeps attacking as ‘the media party’ mostly ignore him now, which has taken away one of the weapons he relied on in the past – creating stories.

Slater may be able to fool some of the people some of the time, and himself all of the time, but most people have wised up.

Whale Oil is still a sizeable forum (although over-rated by Slater as a player) and could become a force again but to be credible it would need to re-brand. However Slater seems intent on trying to benefit from his ‘dirty politics’ infamy and do more of the same.

That seems destined to be repeating the same mistakes with a wiser media and political world. No parties and few candidates are likely to be willing to be seen as associated.