A record of some rumourmongering

This is a record of one individual who has attempted some Gayford rumourmongering here, in a narrow focus on an issue that has been spread across various media. It doesn’t attempt to answer where the rumours came from (I think it’s likely they evolved from different sources and sort of coalesced).

‘Bill Brown’ threw a bit of a wobbly after an inevitable outcome here yesterday after blatantly ignoring clear warnings about what should not be said about the Clarke Gayford issue  – in particular promoting unsubstantiated (fake) allegations.

First, misuse of Gayford’s name as ‘Gaylord’, and indications of intent to attack him, were evident as far back as a 22 September post at Whale Oil, and on 24 October in comments on a personal attack post at Whale Oil comments suggest intent to target Gayford on ‘social media’ and on WO (two separate media):

Whale Oil has run a number of personal attack posts targeting both Gayford and Ardern since then, as recently as yesterday, but this is just some background to the wider attacks on Gayford in particular. Whale Oil have denied being involved in any way in circulating rumours that the legal letter relate to (some comments on WO have disputed this), but regardless of that they have been running a series of personal attacks on Gayford over a number of months (ample evidence of this remains public).

To ‘Bill Brown’, who has a record of interest in this issue dating back to two comments here on Your NZ on 26 November last year:

I wonder how Clarke Gaylorde is liking the DPS watching his every move ……

Also:

Lol. I was wondering about his [redacted]

That inferred allegations that I presume this week’s legal letter warned against disclosing.

Sunday 29 April 2018 (before this week’s story broke):

If the rumours are true the court appearance is already done. The DCJ is mulling the sentence options.

Unless the Police have lied in their statement this must be false. As far as I have seen this line of attack has largely been dropped since the Police statement. Also on Sunday:

Diplomatic passports a great thing when one is [redacted]

Another very specific reference, also with no evidence, and also false if the Police statement is accurate.

Thursday 3 May:

You are correct PG that it started around Oct last year – around the time [redacted]

Another specific reference.

Friday 4 May:

The Gayford story is one of the best examples of the Stresiend Effect ….. ever.

The  ‘Streisand Effect’ has also been promoted on Kiwiblog and Whale Oil (and probably elsewhere), but this has been somewhat thwarted by the media abiding by the legal letter and not publishing details of allegations. Trying to force a ‘Streisand Effect’ – provoking someone to deny (sometimes false or ridiculous) allegations to create negative publicity – is sometimes used as a dirty political tactic.

Saturday 5 May:

Clarke is [redacted]

With the charges rumours dealt to by the police statement this was a switch to another quite specific common allegation that I have seen around for a while, again with no evidence. Even if there was some basis it should be a personal matter and no business of the public – it is a form of dirty attack which appears to me to be an attempt to destabilise the Prime Minister and the Government (however I know of people who get some sort of perverse pleasure from just ‘fucking people over’).

When ‘Bill Brown’ got the inevitable and obvious outcome for blatantly ignoring warnings and requests they responded:

Like I care you dick

Some may care about what he has tried to promulgate, alongside commenters at Kiwiblog (some tried again yesterday but DPF has been moderating now), alongside the Twitter campaign and alongside the targeting of Gayford on Whale Oil, and elsewhere. One unhinged website with extreme allegations on this and other issues has been linked to from various blogs (no name or links allowed here).

There is no public evidence that this is anything other than different people independently doing something similar – targeting and attacking Gayford and Ardern in a variety of ways.

Despite some alleging National Party involvement and others  alleging that it’s an internal Labour Party hit job I have seen no evidence of either.

In the absence of evidence any allegations or rumours should at least be regarded with much skepticism, if not discounted as made up fake allegations.

However I think that an unprecedented degree of targeting of the partner of the Prime Minister has been taking place, and this is an insidious turn for the worse in New Zealand politics. There are associated issues of importance, but I think the scale and type of attacks that have taken place and continue to take place need to be confronted and strongly condemned – with some legal caution.

Allowing discussion on this is important.

However any comments that I feel are too specific, name people with allegations with no evidence, are a potential legal risk, or I otherwise think are inappropriate, may be edited or deleted. Note that sometimes comments here can be parked out of sight until I have time to properly deal with them, and I am not always readily available.

Kiwiblog still has problems

Some blogs appear to have had a legal shake up this week over the Gayford rumour mongering. One blog has been having a big sook and claiming to be the big victim. They are full of contradictions and irony. This takes the cake:

One thing I have learned in politics is that when a political party accuses some other party or individuals of heinous political crimes then they are actually projecting their own actions and abilities against those they accuse.

This is a well known tactic. From what I’ve seen over the years that its exactly what they themselves often do.

At least they have fairly tight moderation and largely seem to have filtered out attempts to hint around the legal letter sent out to some media.

However this issue has highlighted a longstanding problem with Kiwiblog. It’s biggest strength is it’s biggest weakness – it’s very light moderation and very little monitoring. This has encouraged open and free flowing discussions, and there are some gems if you look for them.

But it has also allowed a culture of abuse to become established, as well as enabling the pushing of legal boundaries. This made it a forum of choice for some of those intent on pushing Gayford rumours.

Stuff: Where did the false Clarke Gayford rumours come from?

One early April post on right-leaning site Kiwiblog featured a whole thread discussing the rumours as a “personal scandal” in the comment section, with several commenters with thousands of other comments to their name spreading them.

This probably about the time the rumours picked up steam, but they had originated from months earlier.

That thread remained up on Wednesday, but was soon deleted after Stuff contacted Kiwiblog editor David Farrar for comment.

Farrar told Stuff he deletes defamatory content when it is brought to his attention.

From my own experience he does this promptly and responsibly.

With two million comments and counting on the site it was difficult to keep on top of everything, and he didn’t routinely read the comments on every post.

“When you get that level of comments you can’t go and read them all, you can’t go and read them all it would just take hours every day,” Farrar said.

For a small blog it can be difficult, but for forum the size of Kiwiblog it would be very difficult. Yesterday’s General Debate had 500 comments.

“I tried searching to see if I could proactively find some of it, and actually it’s really hard because people don’t necessarily use the name you would think, they sometimes use nicknames etc. It is really difficult.”

He had suspended several users over comments concerning the Gayford rumours.

To that extent a good response, but the problem persists. Some of those intent on keeping the rumours going have switched tack, to ‘where there’s smoke’ and trying to talk up a Streisand’s effect. As well as trying a conspiracy angle of blaming it all on Labour.

This has turned into a story about the Left slandering National and it’s supporters with false allegations.

The most credible story I have heard is that these rumors came from within Labour and were just gossip about Ardern’s bit of rough. They were not politically motivated or anything new. Now she is promoted beyond her ability its a problem.

“I have heard” is not evidence. It is a common way of trying to spread dirty rumours.

But Farrar has a bigger problem – continuing attempts to hint at what the rumours were about. I have seen two examples already today.

This is a problem Farrar has created for himself to an extent, but having such a hands off approach to monitoring and moderation. But if he doesn’t find a way of dealing with it he could have difficulties.

Another problem for Farrar is his openly disclosed association with National. By allowing Kiwiblog to be used as an attack and rumour mongering forum he is giving opponents of National free shots with claims of ongoing dirty politics.

But changing a culture that has become established virtually unfettered for a decade won’t be easy.

Discussion points on Gayford issue

The Clarke Gayford rumour issue has raised a number of issues worth discussing, albeit with care given legal situations. I have mixed views.

The legal gag

Lawyers acting for Gayford effectively gagged the media and some blogs, warning them that publishing details of the rumours could risk legal action.

I have in effect abided by this, in part because I don’t want to take any unnecessary legal risks, but also because I am happy to enforce something I was already doing, discouraging posting of rumours that had no facts to back them up. This is a general principle here.

This is a choice I have made, but it doesn’t prevent ‘free speech’, anyone is free to publish what they like on other public forums like Twitter and Facebook and take their own risks.

Police Statement

In an unusual move the Police issues a statement saying that they had not been investigating Gayford – “While in general we do not respond to enquiries which seek to confirm if individuals are under police investigation, on this occasion we can say that Mr Gayford is not and has not been the subject of any police inquiry, nor has he been charged in relation to any matter.”

It’s fair to question whether the police should have got themselves involved like this.

I don’t think there is any chance that the police did this at the request of the Prime Minister as some have claimed, I think it was a choice they made when they knew the Herald were going to publish their story.

I, general I don’t have a problem with the police statement – there was an unprecedented campaign of rumour mongering that was obviously aimed at damaging Jacinda Ardern and the government. The Police effectively defused the accusations.

Dirty politics

There has been a lot of angst over a couple of words Ardern included in her brief response – ‘dirty politics’.

This was seen by some, with some justification, as trying to link the National Party with the rumour campaign. Some went as far as blaming National – two of note to do this were Labour staffer Neale McMillan, and ex green MP Darien Fenton.

This is unfair as their is no evidence of National involvement. There has been mentions of ‘National supporters’ being involved, but that’s a very loose connection.

But I don’t have any problem with describing this as dirty politics, for two reasons.

It was dirty smearing and there are clear political connections, so it is dirty politics.

And it trashes the claims of some that ‘Dirty Politics’ is a term that can only be used in relation to National Party black ops. I see dirty politics from Labour as well as from National, and also from Greens. And Winston Peters made some dirty insinuations on this issue, as he often does. Dirty dealings with politics involved is dirty politics.

Where there’s smoke…

As son as the rumours were debunked a number of commenters popped up on KB and WO stating ‘where there’s smoke…’ – and a new ID repeated that here yesterday.

This is either disingenuous or ignorant. I have seen no evidence supporting the rumour. There is no smoke, so trying to promote this is just more dirt mongering.

The large mammal in the room.

Someone commented here yesterday:

Yet that is exactly what your post is attempting to do, ie spread the rumour that a hinted at party is behind the rumours and you are attempting to smearing them in a weasely manner with innuendo without any evidence! You really take the cake Pete.

This is nonsense. I have said a number of times that I have seen no evidence that a party ‘is behind the rumours’. I personally don’t think any party was behind them.

SB seems to be showing a bit of anxiety here, perhaps with good reason. There is ample evidence that a particular blog has posted what I see as fairly dirty attacks on both Ardern and Gayford since the election (since before the rumours in question began). There is other evidence that I’m sure a number of regulars here will be aware of that that blog has at least aided the rumour mongering. And then they whine when they get challenged on it.

I’m choosing not to name them and not to present or link to evidence, but there is evidence, and that may well be what has them spooked. Hissy fitting here won’t undo the risks they have taken – risks they should be well aware of given other long running legal problems.


NOTE: no details or hints of the nature of the rumours are to be posted here, or linked to from here.

‘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.