The tweet/debunk cycle continues

Donald Trump sulked during his media conference with Angela Merkel and waiting until he was in the ‘safety’ of his twittersphere before taking a swipe at Germany.

Trying to circumvent unfavourable media coverage by tweeting directly to his base audience is one thing.

But dirty diplomacy is another. He is looking like a gutless keyboard warrior.

And as has become common the challenges to his claims have flowed.

NZ Herald: German Defense Ministry contradicts Trump, says it doesn’t owe US money for NATO

President Donald Trump’s Saturday tweet accusing Germany of owing the United States “vast sums of money” for NATO might have been an attempt to put pressure on the European ally. But Berlin has rejected his claim while also questioning his understanding of NATO finances.

Yesterday, German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen called the criticism “inaccurate,” without mentioning the president’s name.

“NATO does not have a debt account,” von der Leyen said, according to her ministry. In reality, NATO has only a small logistical budget, which relies on funding by all member states. The vast majority of NATO members’ total resources are managed domestically, however.


The criticism echoed other experts, including former US ambassador to NATO Ivo Daalder. “Trump’s comments misrepresent the way NATO functions,” Daalder told The Washington Post on Saturday. “The president keeps saying that we need to be paid by the Europeans for the fact that we have troops in Europe or provide defense there. But that’s not how it works.”

Trump is not  just gutless, he is also often inaccurate.

Different accounts of tweeted libel

The media has been under the gun for lack of accuracy and fake news. There have always been issues with different accounts, slants and views.

Here’s and illustration of this, in a libel case in England as a result of a spat on Twitter that began with Katie Hopkins taking a swipe at the wrong person.

Beware – it’s not just potentially what is tweeted (or posted in social media), it is how it is dealt with if someone has a valid complaint.

Nelly posted…

Great to hear from *Katie Hopkins* that she intends to appeal the *ridiculous libel judgement* that went against her over some harmless little tweet for God sake ❗

…and linked to this blog post: Britain’s medieval libel laws should be kept away from Twitter that explains how it all happened.

This is the case of Jack Monroe, food blogger and the only working-class person in Britain the Guardianlikes, suing Katie Hopkins, a foghorn made flesh. The details of the case are so brain-fryingly petty that I’m embarrassed to recount them. But needs must.

In May 2015 Hopkins asked Monroe in a tweet if she had ‘scrawled on any [war] memorials recently’. Monroe has never scrawled on a war memorial. Hopkins had mixed her up with New Statesman columnist Laurie Penny, who did once say it was okay that protesters against austerity wrote ‘F**k Tory scum’ on a war memorial.

Realising her mistake, Hopkins deleted the tweet a few hours later. She followed it up with a tweet asking if someone could explain the difference between Monroe and Penny. Monroe fired off a legal letter and then, get this, Hopkins retracted her tweet. On 1 June 2015 she tweeted: ‘@MsJackMonroe I was confused about identity. I got it wrong.’

So Hopkins makes a mistake, deletes and retracts it, and yet two years later she’s found guilty of defamation and ordered to pay damages and costs that some estimate will be close to £300,000. What’s going on?

It seems to hinge on Hopkins’ failure to say sorry. That was one of Monroe’s demands pre-trial. Monroe has since tweeted to those of us ‘wanging on about free speech’ that ‘“Sorry” would have been free speech. Like literally, free.’ So Hopkins has been severely financially punished for failing to demonstrate sufficient contrition? What century is this?

That someone can be made to suffer profound financial hardship for making a mistake that she later retracted should worry anyone who believes in free speech. Hopkins intimated something that was untrue, yes. People shouldn’t do that. But the fact is, sometimes they do. Especially on Twitter, that hotbed of hyperbole.

But is that how it happened? A different version from the Guardian in Jack Monroe wins Twitter libel case against Katie Hopkins:

The writer and food blogger Jack Monroe has won a libel action against the Daily Mail columnist Katie Hopkins and been awarded £24,000 damages, in a row over tweets suggesting Monroe approved of defacing a war memorial during an anti-austerity demonstration in Whitehall.

Monroe was not awarded full costs, but, since both legal teams were on a no-win-no-fee basis, Monroe will not have to pay. Hopkins’ side has been ordered to make an interim payment of £107,000 within 28 days. The final costs figure has yet to be assessed.

That’s not (yet at least) close to “some estimate will be close to £300,000″.

The judge, Mr Justice Warby, found that Hopkins’ tweets were defamatory and that there had been “serious harm” to Monroe’s reputation, though that harm was not “very serious” or “grave”.

The threshold for libel in the UK is “serious harm”.

The case centred on a Twitter exchange in May 2015, in which Hopkins confused two well-known anti-austerity commentators: Monroe and Laurie Penny, a columnist for the New Statesman. Penny had tweeted about a memorial to the women of the second world war in Whitehall having been vandalised with the words “Fuck Tory scum” during an anti-austerity demonstration.

Commenting on the graffiti, Penny tweeted from her account @PennyRed that she “[didn’t] have a problem” with the vandalism as a form of protest, as “the bravery of past generations does not oblige us to be cowed today”.

Hopkins attributed the opinion to Monroe and tweeted to her then account @MsJackMonroe: “Scrawled on any memorials recently? Vandalised the memory of those who fought for your freedom. Grandma got any more medals?”

When Monroe, who is from an armed forces family, responded furiously and demanded £5,000 for a migrants’ charity on threat of a libel action, Hopkins deleted the original tweet but followed it up with one asking what the difference was between “irritant Penny and social anthrax Monroe”.

Shortly after Hopkins’ original message, Monroe, a contributor to the Guardian, tweeted in response: “I have NEVER ‘scrawled on a memorial’. Brother in the RAF. Dad was a Para in the Falklands. You’re a piece of shit.”

Monroe later sent a second message asking Hopkins to apologise: “Dear @KTHopkins, public apology + £5K to migrant rescue and I won’t sue. It’ll be cheaper for you and v satisfying for me.”

Hopkins deleted the first tweet but shortly afterwards tweeted: “Can someone explain to me – in 10 words or less – the difference between irritant @PennyRed and social anthrax @MsJackMonroe.”

Monroe’s lawyers argued that the second tweet carried an innuendo that Monroe approved or condoned the vandalism, which would cause lasting damage to her reputation. Monroe told the court the exchange had led to abuse from others on Twitter including death threats, and that the affair had been “an 18-month unproductive, devastating nightmare”.

Hopkins did not appear in court, but her lawyers argued that it was “a relatively trivial dispute” that was over in a few hours, and that “no lasting harm, and certainly no serious harm” had been caused to Monroe.

Monroe’s lawyer, Mark Lewis, said after the judgement that Hopkins had obstinately refused to apologise throughout, and had conducted her defence by “slinging as much mud as possible” to hide the false allegation.

“The price of not saying sorry has been very high,” Lewis said. “Hopkins has had to pay out of her own pocket a six-figure sum in damages and costs for a tweet that should have been deleted within minutes as soon as she was told it was wrong. On this occasion, the cost of renting that gob was particularly high.”

That puts quite a different slant on the story, describing more than “so Hopkins makes a mistake, deletes and retracts it”, but it’s debatable whether it justifies an expensive libel case and a sizeable award of damages.

However it’s difficult to judge without at least knowing substantial factual details of the case.

Sanders versus Trump on Medicare

Polls suggested that Donald trump would have had most trouble competing for the US presidency against Bernie Sanders. It didn’t come to that.

However Sanders has called Trump to account for tweeted promises in the US Senate – from Joe Bloggs:

The Cheezel has weaponised Twitter and has just been shot in the foot with one of his tweets. Looking forward to seeing more of this and there’ll be plenty of opportunity, given the Cheezel’s predilection for lying:

The Senate is currently debating the repeal of Obamacare. And since Senators love their visual aids, it makes sense that Bernie Sanders brought one along with him to work today. But Bernie’s sign marks the dawn of a new era in a lot of ways. He literally just printed out a tweet from President-elect Donald Trump.

To help demonstrate his point that Donald Trump promised not to cut Medicare and Medicaid benefits, Bernie decided that perhaps his argument could best be made with Trump’s own words. Or own characters, as it were.

The tweet dates from May of 2015 and proclaimed, “I was the first & only potential GOP candidate to state there will be no cuts to Social Security, Medicare & Medicaid. Huckabee copied me.”

Bernie said that if Trump plans to cut Medicare or Medicaid that he should just admit now that he was lying.
“Millions of people voted for him on the belief that he would keep his word,” Sanders said on the Senate floor, referring to Trump’s promises during the election campaign.

Trump is vulnerable from his many tweets. Time will tell whether he can keep getting away with flip flopping from past claims.

A nasty side of Brexit

I have no idea how isolated or widespread is but this is disturbing, but perhaps not surprising.

This is not the post Brexit Britain we want to see. Politicians from all sides need to speak out



Media ignore Mallard tweet

On Wednesday during Question Time in Parliament Trevor Mallard sent a tweet that accused John Key of being involved in tax evasion.

This is a serious accusation by an MP who is deputy speaker and aspires to be Speaker should Labour get back into power (and their coalition partners agree).

Whale Oil posted on the tweet yesterday:

Disgusting defamatory smear on John Key via Twitter from Trevor Mallard

Yesterday at 2:34pm Trevor Mallard made a tweet that didn’t just accuse John Key of being associated with tax evasion, it actually stated he was involved.

I have a screenshot, but the tweet has since been deleted, and I’m not going to repeat what it said.

However a link purportedly showing the deleted text was posted in a comment showing that it had been public for about two hours.

Suffice to say it was highly defamatory and you would think that an Assistant Speaker of the House would know better than to use Twitter from inside the house to defame the Prime Minister.

But deleting the text doesn’t make the defamation any less.

It appears that the tweet said “John Key deep in tax evasion” – something that is widely implicated and stated around social media, without foundation.

It doesn’t take much to find examples, recently from The Standard in comments associated with Key’s deposit with company specialising in foreign trusts


Crooked Key


The world of Wall St. high finance is the world of tax evasion. I think Key is up to his eyeballs in trouble and fighting desperately to keep from drowning.

This sort of comment are common, but coming from an MP is another matter.

It is obviously an unacceptable tweet from an MP while in Parliament, and is not one that can be supported by any evidence that I’m aware of.

Slater is justified in calling it dirty politics, despite some irony in him complaining about others using smears in politics. Slater and Mallard have feuded for years.

David Farrar also posted on this at Kiwiblog – Mallard defames Key.

Mallard has since deleted the tweet, which basically said John Key is involved in tax evasion.

Now what makes this worse is Trevor Mallard is an Assistant Speaker of the House of Representatives. He is Labour’s nominee to be Speaker. His behaviour is incompatible with being an officer of the House. Smearing and defaming the Prime Minister on Twitter (and during question time) does not make people think you can preside fairly over the House.

Mallard needs to decide – does he want to be Assistant Speaker, or does he want to be Labour’s Attack Dog? You can’t be both.

As for Mallard’s smear. Well they’ve been trying the same line for almost ten years now and it hasn’t worked. You think they would come up with a new strategy, but it seems they can’t.

This week some of the media prominently launched into ‘news’ that promoted a ‘perception’ problem for John Key over trusts and lawyers even though there was nothing that pointed to any actual impropriety.

But they seem to have ignored the deputy speaker sending a smear tweet while Parliament was sitting.

Is this because Mallard is not taken seriously any more?

Or is it because stories promoted by Slater and Farrar via their blogs are now shunned by media after the Dirty Politics disclosures?

Or did it not fit with their anti-Key messages that have been prevalent this week?

Or a mixture of all of the above?

One thing is for sure – political news can be very selective, and topical targets can get hammered disproportionately while others get away with large dollops of dirt dishing.

Perhaps Mallard’s tweet will be dealt with appropriately through Parliament’s Privileges Committee.

The Greens promote themselves as having integrity and have long pushed for better behaviour in Parliament – should they rule out supporting Mallard as a candidate for Speaker should they get joint power with Labour?

Flag symbol of class warfare

Not long ago Chris Trotter wrote hopefully that protest against the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement was symbol of an uprising of class warfare that would build into revolution.

The TPPA protest has fizzled away, so Trotter has turned his attention to the flag referendum, and more specifically to Sue Moroney’s snarky tweet that caused a bit of a fluff last week.

Trotter asks Was Class The Decisive Factor In Determining The Flag Referendum’s Outcome?

FOR THE BEST PART OF A WEEK, the Labour MP, Sue Moroney, has been on the receiving end of a vicious media caning. Her crime? Tweeting a photograph of a handsome Waihi Beach property flying the Silver Fern Flag, accompanied by the incendiary caption: “Just because you own a flash beach house doesn’t mean you get to decide our flag.”

He works his way to…

At the core of Ms Moroney’s tweet is the unmistakeable whiff of class warfare. Her generous parliamentary salary notwithstanding, she clearly reacted with visceral working-class fury to the visual cues of the Silver Fern Flag and a “flash beach house”.

Her ownership of four properties including a holiday home also withstanding – Moroney is an unlikely flag bearer for the working class.

Something in her personality (and in the personalities of tens-of-thousands of her fellow New Zealanders) linked together wealth, power, the proposal to change the flag, and the Prime Minister, in a causal chain of extraordinary emotive strength.

In a peculiar, largely unacknowledged way, voting to retain the flag became, for many Kiwis, a small but satisfying gesture of class defiance.

For many Kiwis? How does Trotter measure that? There’s a range of reasons that people voted against flag change, a prominent one being the colonial class who wanted to t=retain the Union Jack symbol of the United Kingdom.

Perhaps this explains why Ms Moroney’s tweet has elicited such an angry response from those who, in one way or another, contrived to carry the Prime Minister’s flag. Her bitter caption clearly stung them in ways many found difficult to explain. It implied that at least some members of the punditocracy had behaved discreditably; lined up with the wrong people; backed the wrong cause.

At the very least, Ms Moroney’s “class warfare” tweet has cast the indisputable class divide separating those who voted for the present flag from those who voted against it, in a new and disquieting light.

About the only disquieting thing about Moroney’s tweet was her lack of awareness about how a petty attack on some peoeple and their holiday home might be perceived. It was not a good look for an MP or for the Labour Party, as Andrew Little acknowledged.

But I think it’s extremely unlikely that Sue Moroney will become an inadvertent flag bearer for a Kiwi uprising into class warfare.

For most people the flag referendum faded quickly into Easter.

Trotter will have to look harder for his revolutionary leader, and hope for another divisive issue to tear New Zealand apart.

Maybe a few weeks after Helen Clark’s successful or failed bid for the lead position of the UN he will see some fissure in the fabric of our society in that.

In the meantime I guess he can continue scouring Twitter for hidden signs of his revolution.

Or maybe he could flag searching in futility for his Comrade Kiwi king.

Rachinger’s “I am Rawshark” tweet

It seems unlikely Ben Rachinger was Rawshark’. His “I am Rawshark” tweet was not the first (of many) claim of solidarity with the Slater hacker.

In October Ben Rachinger tweeted

Ben Rachinger @B3nRaching3r

I am Rawshark.

See “I Am Rawshark” – Ben Rachinger’s Sequel To “Dirty Politics” at Scoop.

He also tweeted:

Ben Rachinger @B3nRaching3r

It’s not proof you want. Snowden gave you proof. Rawshark gave you proof. Manning gave you proof.
And 99% of you sat back and did nothing.

In February he tweeted:

 Oh I know this one well.

I’m estranged from my parents since police came to the door looking for Rawshark. In October.

In a blog post in May The Hacker and all the PMs men Rachinger referred to Rawshark a number of times.

Cameron Slater is a far-right blogger, a fervent Christian man, the son of an Ex-National Party (Right wing political party) President and a man who believes that Whites are superior. A hunter of Animals and Men. Someone who called a recently deceased young man a “feral” on his blog. Ostensibly this was the reason a hacker named “Rawshark” hacked into Mr Slaters Gmail, Twitter and Facebook accounts and fed this data to Mr Nicky Hager and journalists at the New Zealand Herald.


Out of my own curiosity I began to investigate the possibilities for who the hacker could be. Shortly after this the Twitter handle @Whaledump popped up. Ostensibly this handle was the hacker themselves Rawshark. This account started to drop personal information, alongside more leaks, about Mr Slater and his alleged co-conspirators. I was interested to note that the first person it followed was @KimDotcom. The account made many challenges that their Operational Security was 100% tight and they would never be found.

My curiosity now fully aroused, I began to have conversations with Mr Slater about who Rawshark could be. After some investigating Mr Slater asked me to speak to the Police task-force who were working the Rawshark hack case. I demurred as I did not have any clear and present evidence about the identity of Rawshark.


I rang the Policeman who had left his card and enquired as to just exactly what he thought he was doing coming to my parents house and enquiring after me. I was very, very angry. My parents are Right-Wing voters who support the National Government and were looking askance at me now that cops were coming to their house. My parents are quiet people who don’t wish for any extra stress as they head into their 60s. The cop said that they had been “monitoring my twitter feed” and also that “Cameron Slater says you have inside knowledge of the Rawshark hack”. I politely replied that I would come down to the local Police Station and be interviewed.


Back in late August, Whale and I had been exchanging Threema messages about the possible ID of “Rawshark”. Whale requested that I get in contact with a “trusted friend”.


Nobody had any evidence of Bradbury and Harre connection to the Rawshark hack.


Nobody had any evidence of Bradbury and Harre connection to the Rawshark hack.

This is ‘Tomas’ seeing if I can, or anyone I know, get access to a Joomla site that was tied to who these people alleged was ‘Rawshark’. I did no cracking and left it.


At this stage I was an undercover Police asset in both the investigation into Rawshark and the ongoing look at Mr Slater.

There’s some doubt about Rachinger’s claims he was “an undercover Police asset”.

And finally:

Alongside this set of events, I had received word that the Identity of “Rawshark” was being spoken about in the Press Gallery and also by persons that Mr Slater had spoken to. I sent out the now infamous tweet “I am Rawshark” in a show of solidarity for whom this person was believed to be. They had recently had a baby. She was days old at this point.

This appears to be a reasonable explanation, that the “I am Rawshark” tweet was nothing more than an “I am Spartacus” type support comment.

Rachinger wasn’t the first to do ‘I am Rawshark”. His tweet was on 31 October 2014.

A number of commenters at The Standard changed their pseudonyms to include ‘Rawshark’ in their names (and some still do). In a thread on 7 October:

7 October 2014 at 9:42 am
Time for a little mischief making – started on TDB, the declaration based on the slave revolt in the film Spartacus

I am Rawshark

Join the revolution, declare your solidarity

7 October 2014 at 9:49 am
I am Rawshark.

There’s many references and pseudonym changes in the thread on How far will the harassment of Hager go?

This would appear to be where it started, at The Daily Blog on October 6:

OCTOBER 6, 2014 AT 8:58 PM

I am Rawshark.

It seems very unlikely Rachinger had any involvement with Rawshark or the hacking of Slater.

Tweets of the day

3Noos reports that a Jetstar flight flew too low while landing. Perhaps they should land a bit further away from the ground next time?

“A car held to the road by magnets.” Well, guided by them at least…

Shane Jones has issued a written apology for nothing in particular but left a gap for his staff to fill in later today.

Say what you will about George W Bush, but he wouldn’t have stood for Russian aggression in Ukraine. He’d have invaded New Zealand by now.

Conceding wrongdoing isn’t an apology. It’s an admission.

Is Shane Jones involved in some Alpha Male pissing contest with Matt McCarten? Is this what’s going on, or he just wants to be opposition?

Looks like Twitter now about 60 percent amateur airplane detectives, 40 percent mockers of amateur airplane detectives

‘Judith – As a plain speaking kiwi bloke of Dalmatian provenience I’m more compunctious than a fiddling Takehe . . .’ #ShaneJonesApologises

Well that’s new: a PR company emailing journos a press release about how it’s looking for a new PR person who doesn’t annoy journos.

May be added to…

Sword hovering over Cunliffe

No doubt encouraged by his success at taking John Banks to task for an electoral misdemeanour Graham McCready confirms his intent to look left as well – Serial litigant takes aim at Cunliffe

Serial litigant Graham McCready has put Labour leader David Cunliffe on notice: if the police don’t prosecute him for breaking electoral rules, then he will.

McCready said Cunliffe could expect court action within six months.

A tweet quickly removed may seem trivial but Cunliffe should have known better. And the potential potential penalty is greater than for Banks.


The maximum fine John Banks potentially faces is $10,000. The maximum fine David Cunliffe potentially faces is $20,000.

This raises questions about how our democracy can be so influenced by one person initiating private prosecutions.

In the meantime, (camp Cunliffe) Zetetic  at The Standard…

A knighthood I would back

I don’t support knighthoods. I especially don’t support knighthoods being handed out to people who have just done their jobs at the end of their careers. You know, the gongs for ministers and CEOs. But if you are going to have honours, they should go to ordinary people who have truly gone above and beyond and acted where others failed. Arise, Sir Graham McCready.

…may have spoken a bit soon, he mustn’t have seen McCready’s sword now aimed at Cunliffe: