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.