The ‘new news Sheriff in town’

Fortune magazine reports on an advertising stoush involving Kellogg and the controversial US news site Breitbart.

Kellogg to Stop Advertising on Breitbart Over Values Difference

Cereal maker Kellogg said on Tuesday it would stop advertising on Breitbart.com, saying the far-right news site’s values conflict with its own.

The popular site, until last summer run by Steve Bannon, one of President-elect Donald Trump’s top advisers, has been criticized by many as having a racist, misogynistic and anti-Semitic slant. Kellogg’s move stemmed from customer complaints, according to the company, which makes popular cereal brands like Corn Flakes and Rice Krispies.

“We regularly work with our media buying partners to ensure our ads do not appear on sites that aren’t aligned with our values as a company,” a Kellogg spokesperson told Fortune in an e-mail statement. “This involves reviewing websites where ads could potentially be placed using filtering technology to assess site content. As you can imagine, there is a very large volume of websites, so occasionally something is inadvertently missed.”

Fortunecould not immediately reach a Breitbart representative, but the site slammed Kellogg for the move, telling the Associated Press in a statement that Kellogg’s move was “to its own detriment” given the size of its readership. According to ComScore, the site had 19.2 million unique monthly U.S. visitors in October, significantly up from a year earlier and a record for the site.

Kellogg’s move was an act of “economic censorship of mainstream conservative political discourse” and is “as un-American as it gets,” Breitbart said in its statement to AP.

Some claim that the way that Breitbart operates is not very ‘American’.

Other brands have also pulled ads on Breitbart, including Allstate, Nest, EarthLink, Warby Parker and SoFi, according to Digiday. Last week, AppNexus deactivated Breitbart News after an audit of the site’s content determined that it violates the advertising network ban on hate speech.

Advertisers can and should choose who they want to associate their advertising with.

Whale Oil sees similarities with it’s own problems with advertising and revenue in Advertising is New Media’s Achilles heel.

Advertising revenue is Whaleoil’s Achilles heel too, which is why we have introduced our new subscription model.

When you subscribe to Whaleoil you get the benefit of google ad-free content while helping to bullet-proof Whaleoil from left-wing attacks on our advertising revenue.

And from advertisers choosing who not to be associated with.

Breitbart News is the new News sheriff in town and is expanding rapidly but the establishment who preferred the old News sheriff still have a few bullets in their arsenal. If they can’t beat the new News by being better they will instead try to beat it by crippling it economically.

It is a bit like the ageing Sheriff with arthritis trying to get rid of his rival not in a gun fight but by talking the local store into refusing to sell him any supplies for his ranch. He might be the better gunslinger but how long can he last without any supplies?

A quaint martyrish metaphor, but business is business when it comes to advertising.

With your support , we can ensure that Whaleoil becomes the new News Sheriff in town.

Hardly new – Whale Oil has been firing shots at old media for a decade. And this ‘News Sheriff ‘ has a bit of a tarnished star.

 

Orca ironies

Whale Oil has had a bit of a grizzle about being left out of Bryce Edwards’ Daily Roundups. Some interesting ironies are included.

As a personal note, I would hope that when it comes to doing Political Roundups, he once again includes Whaleoil content.  The fact he may not feel happy about being called out should not be reflected in a petulant response which essentially amounts to trying to re-write history by simply ignoring it.

I don’t think WO reciprocates either with Edwards’ content much.

I’m also rarely mentioned in the Political Roundups too, but I presume for different reasons than Whaleoil exclusions. But in contrast I don’t care, I’ve always been happy to stay a bit outside (looking into) the political and media bubbles.

Love it or loathe it, Whaleoil is a major force in the political analysis, commentary and reporting market, and you’d have to think that after the heat of the election and other matters, we can get back to business.

Whaleoil is a force for sure, but major is probably a major exaggeration.

I hope the good Dr finds a role where he isn’t restrained in being open about his preferences.  As much as I hope that he chooses debate over censorship.

Many of those banned from Whaleoil will see major irony in that. Whaleoil has been heavily censored for about two and a half years.

Of course, he would risk being ostracised by the usual suspects that try to isolate open and free debate by public bullying and ridicule via social media.

There’s a few ‘usual suspects’ who are amongst the worst at public bullying and attempts to ridicule via social media. Another lame attempt targeted me last night. SB?

Few have the courage to stand up to them if they hope to have any future in the left of politics.   Just to tweet, link or mention anything about Whaleoil is sufficient to be excommunicated. Such is their idea of freedom and a decent society that they will eat their young rather than construct a better argument.

Where does one start dissecting that? I’ve stood up to Whale Oil, and I’ve stood up to people with connections to Whale Oil, and there have been extreme responses, including trying to imprison me (I presume they thought they could achieve that but were wrong,  incompetent and malicious failures).

If Whale Oil seriously wants to become a serious force ‘in the political analysis, commentary and reporting market’ then some  a bit of winding back on the ironies dripping with a lack of self awareness wouldn’t go amiss.

Slater does have a long record of political involvement and experience and can have some useful insights and still breaks the occasional serious story, but if Whaleoil keeps whining about being hard done by, and keeps embellishing their own trumpet blowing, then it might take a while to build some credibility in the commentariat.

Source: a blog.

Post-truth and posting lies

‘Post-truth’ is contradicted on blogs which which often seem to post distortions and lies.

This is sometimes as the agents of political parties, or as volunteer lie posters who think they are helping a cause.

This can  be through deliberate attempts to mislead, but sometimes may be through ignorance, and some could be through an inability to interpret without prejudice.

Post-truth politics has been mentioned recently in the UK with the Brexit campaign and also in the current US presidential campaign where blatant lying has reached new lows.

lies

RNZ Toby

Wikipedia:

Post-truth politics (also called post-factual politics) is a political culture in which debate is framed largely by appeals to emotion disconnected from the details of policy, and by the repeated assertion of talking points to which factual rebuttals are ignored. Post-truth differs from traditional contesting and falsifying of truth by rendering it of “secondary” importance.

It has also come up in in a New Zealand context over the last few months.

  • Andrea Vance at 1 News: Opinion: A post-truth era in politics
    The campaigns of Donald Trump and the Brexiteers have been a triumph of emotional populism over cold, hard facts. In this distorted reality there are imaginary MSD squads flying in to help the homeless, and new emergency beds that already existed.
  • RNZ: Is a ‘post-truth’ era upon us?
    The government has shrugged off events and evidence contradicting claims made by ministers recently, frustrating many journalists. Are we really in a “post-truth” period where the facts don’t matter any more? If so, do the media share the blame?
  • RNZ: Toby & Toby on… post-truth politics
    The condition has also been observed in lands as distant as the Pacific paradise of Aotearoa New Zealand.
  • Stuff: Are NZ politicians joining the international tide of post-truth politics?
    But are we any different down here on the edge of the world? Is the New Zealand body politic keeping itself trim on a stern diet of facts and evidence, or are we, too, choosing the sugar-rush of anecdata, the greasy mouthfeel of a racist porky, the finger-licking goodness of unsupported rumour?

Is it getting worse in New Zealand? Politicians have probably lied since politicians. The Stuff article looks back:

As long as there’s been politics there have been lies. In Ancient Greece the Athenians talked about “demagogues” – rabble-rousers who appealed to emotion and prejudice rather than fact and reason.

In his deranged autobiography Mein Kampf, Adolf Hitler spoke of the propaganda value of the “big lie”: saying blatantly untrue things so loudly and often that the populace can’t believe you’d have dared make it up.

In the past decade though commentators have been picking a new trend – not so much that lies are being told, but that the old counterbalances, research, empirical evidence – were losing their corrective power.

The immediacy of Internet reporting plus it’s reach and lack of checks and balances and commenting has contributed to lie spreading.

Jonathan Swift (1710): “Falsehood flies, and the Truth comes limping after it; so that when Men come to be undeceiv’d, it is too late; the Jest is over, and the Tale has had its Effect…”

Thomas Francklin (1787): “Falsehood will fly, as it were, on the wings of the wind, and carry its tales to every corner of the earth; whilst truth lags behind; her steps, though sure, are slow and solemn, and she has neither vigour nor activity enough to pursue and overtake her enemy…”

‘A lie will go round the world while truth is pulling its boots on’ and variants were used through the 1800s, and since.

Lying in New Zealand politics is more than suspected, with Winston Peters’ ‘NO’ sign from 2008 still being mocked. Surprisingly this isn’t mentioned on his Wikipedia page but the Parliamentary censure is: The Privileges Committee returned a report on 22 September recommending that Peters be censured for “knowingly providing false or misleading information on a return of pecuniary interests.

Posting lies on political blogs is a common accusation. A high profile case between Colin Craig and Cameron Slater is due in court next year to test claims of lies.

Whale Oil is well known for making claims that will never be substantiated, like:

And so it begins…

By Cameron Slater

Make no mistake, this is a deliberate undermining of Andrew Little by Twyford.

Post-truth in relation to blogging came to mind over the last few days with a string of questionable posts at The Standard.

Racist Nats Attack Chinese Grannies Shock!

Written By:

National have slammed the door shut on the parents of already settled migrants who wish to move to NZ to complete the family unit. Minister Michael Woodhouse accuses elderly Asians of bludging off the NZ taxpayer. You won’t believe the howls of outrage from the right!

The crime spike

Written By:

Who would have thought that a surge in homelessness would result in a spike in crime, and that a dramatic increase in the number of people with no or compromised housing situations would cause an increase in burglaries, robberies and assaults.

I see a poverty of ideas and a poverty of Government responsibility

Written By:

Judith Collins yesterday said that child poverty is the fault of parents and not the fault of her Government.

Housing Corp is running out of money

WrittenBy:

It seems that the strip mining of Housing Corporation so that the Government could declare a surplus is reaching its logical conclusion.  Treasury is forecasting Housing Corp to be out of money by next February.

There is no surplus

Written By:

In Year Eight of this National government, the idea of a budget surplus is a joke. They’ve promised it for nearly a decade. They’ve fiddled the books. The truth is, there is no surplus.

The truth is that Rodgers is is wrong, either deliberately or out of ignorance. And most of the comments on her post continue the misconceptions and misinformation.

It’s difficult to know when the lies are deliberate, and when they are repeated so often amongst their political peers they come to believe they are true.

Regardless, there may never have been an era of truth in politics but in the Internet age the perpetuation of lies has become far more obvious.

New Zealand surely can’t slide to the lying lows of the US presidential campaign but the signs of untruthfulness look ominous for the political future.

Is there any chance that democracy can avoid self destruction?

Ex MP fails in Marlborough

Ex National MP Colin King missed the mark by a long way in the Marlborough mayoralty, with John Leggett getting nearly twice as many votes as King.

RNZ:

John Leggett is the new mayor in Marlborough, replacing Alistair Sowman, who is stepping down after 12 years in office. He won 8992 votes, with his nearest rival Colin King  4741 votes.

Leggett was secretly recorded voicing concern about council spending on the cash-strapped ASB Theatre, a project he has always publicly supported.

The recording was released to Cameron Slater’s Whale Oil blog leading to allegations a rival mayoral candidate had hired Mr Slater to reveal dirt on Mr Leggett.

The tactic failed spectacularly however with Mr Leggett gaining almost twice as many votes as his nearest rival.

Provincial politics is a lot different to big city party politics. Word can get around quite effectively, and relatively few there will read blogs or take them, seriously.

That could be an embarrassing defeat for King, an ex Member of Parliament, despite using Simon Lusk who has an association with Whale Oil.

 

 

Slater explains Craig’s appeal problem

Bill Hodge, expert on defamation, has called the award of $1.27 million in damages against Colin Craig as “breathtaking, eye-watering and mind-boggling” and that it is potentially a landmark moment in New Zealand defamation history.

NZH: Craig’s ‘breathtaking’ $1.3m defamation damages could set New Zealand record, says legal expert

A Kiwi defamation expert says the $1.3 million in damages former Conservative Party leader Colin Craig has been ordered to pay Jordan Williams is “breathtaking” and could make legal history.

In what could end up being the largest sum ever paid in a Kiwi defamation case, Auckland University Associate Professor of Law Bill Hodge says yesterday’s decision is a landmark moment.

Describing the $1.3m sum as incredible, Hodge predicts legal experts around the globe will be tracking the case – which he thinks is far from over.

“It’s breathtaking, eye-watering and mind-boggling. These are all the adjectives I would use to describe the amount,” Hodge said.

Hodge says he expects the Craig decision will also be appealed in a notoriously complex and expensive area of New Zealand law.

“There will be an appeal,” Hodge said. “The legal issues are extremely significant because it’s the equivalent of a self-defence response.

“It’s a difficult area, defences in defamation particularly. It needs further examination as to the extent that someone can ‘hit back’.

“My personal opinion is that the jury decided Craig went over the top with his response. He might have had a legitimate response if it was measured and in the appropriate form.

“It’s a bit like he was slapped by Jordan and he pulled out an automatic weapon and fired all his shots.”

Cameron Slater, who is lining up his own defamation case against Craig and I think has attended the whole of the proceedings in Williams v Craig, has posted a number of times on it since the jury announced their finding.

One of his best explanations of the problems Craig face with appealing the jury decision was actually in a comment on one of these posts, Why Colin Craig is pissing in the wind.

Here is the problem. The jury was given what is called a Question Trail. That is a trail of questions they need to answer in a logical manner to step them through the legal complexity of defamation law. The judge spent two hours summing up and directing the jury on how to use this Question trail to come to their decisions.

The Question Trail was drafted by Craig’s lawyer, then approved by Jordan’s lawyer and then finally by the Judge. Mills drafted the Question Trail to start with the defence if Qualified Privilege, then move to truth when that failed and then to honest opinion after that.

The Question trail contained 14 questions, and there were two counts so the jury had to step through 28 questions and write up their reasoning beside each one and hand that tot eh judge after the verdict was given.

The first few questions stepped through qualified privilege. They would not have been required to step through any more questions if the jury had considered qualified privilege and decided it applied. They clearly passed through those questions after quite some time…they deliberated for 10 hours.

They also stepped through the truth and honest opinion and came to the conclusion that Colin Craig HAD defamed Jordan Williams.

Further they considered the defamation to so extreme, so outrageous and so deliberate that they decided to award punitive damages against Craig.

When this gets to the Court of Appeal Craig is going to find the judges will look at the punitive damages and decided accordingly. Same with the qualified privilege argument. Mills knows they considered it, he would have known that after the jury retired for the night the first day. After that he would have been counselling his client to prepare for a loss.

Why?

Because in his closing argument he spent precisely two and half minutes explaining to the jury the truth defence, 5 minutes on honest opinion and a massive 40 minutes on qualified privilege. Craig was totally and utterly relying on qualified privilege.

For those who don’t know qualified privilege can be lost. Firstly if you were motivated by ill will in your response. The evidence was clear on that. Colin was motivated by ill will and the jury must have agreed.

I think ill will is still debatable. The jury does seem to have agreed that it was ill will, and I haven’t heard all the evidence, but I think Craig’s motivation is possible more complex than simple ill will.

The second was to lose qualified privilege is the breadth of the response. Jordan Williams spoke to about 5 people about Craig, Craig thought an appropriate response was to call him a liar in 1.6 million booklets delivered nationwide. Now you can see why the jury decided he lost qualified privilege.

While Hodge and a number of others have agreed that the 1.6 million pamphlets look like an inappropriate response – I have always thought they were an inappropriate response since they were sent out – I think the key is whether it was disproportionate enough to justify a massive award.

Slater understates Williams actions – “Jordan Williams spoke to about 5 people about Craig” omits a key detail, one of those who Williams spoke to and gave evidence to was Slater, and that is almost certain to have been in the knowledge that Slater would post about it on Whale Oil. In court it was claimed that Williams threatened exposure via Whale Oil when asking Conservative Party officials to dump Craig.

So the comparison is “1.6 million booklets delivered nationwide” versus “speaking to “about 5 people” plus publication on Whale Oil, which has a significant readership and Williams and Slater will have known and probably hoped that mainstream media would pick up what was posted about Craig and give it wider publicity.

“1.6 million booklets delivered nationwide” is still greater than posting on line and getting widespread news coverage, and Craig also sought news coverage through his press conference, but is quite a bit closer than Slater implies. Still inappropriate, over the top and quite possibly still over the legal line as far as defamation goes, but the degree of excessiveness could be debated in Court of Appeal, along with the amount of the damages.

That left truth as a defence, which was gone the moment you examine the Mr X interview. And honest opinion was forlorn as well.

Colin Craig will likely appeal this, but he is also likely to lose that appeal.

It sounds like Craig intends to appeal. If he does I think it’s quite likely it won’t be fully successful, but I think the chances of an adjustment in the amount of damages are quite high.

But Williams advantage is that he will start an appeal process from a very high point. Even if the award was halved or even quartered it would still be substantial, especially if costs are also awarded against Craig.

Also up for debate, although I don’t know whether this will be covered in any appeal, is what sort a reputation Williams had and how much it could be reduced by Craig’s actions. How much was Williams’ reputation damaged by what Craig published, versus how much his reputation was confirmed by what was revealed in Hager’s ‘Dirty Politics’ (which has never been tested in court) and what was revealed in court.

Both the legal actions and the debate on this are probably far from over.

Hager at Williams v Craig

Dirty Politics author Nicky Hager gave evidence unwillingly in the defamation case between Jordan Williams and Colin Craig.

In the days leading up to this there was some PR positioning on Twitter, led by Matthew Hooton.

You know that was not true and the subpoena is pure PR.

I know first hand that: (1) it is true, (2) the subpoena is not just PR, & (3) you are spreading misinformation.

Geiringer has represented Hager. There was a lot more twittering over this.

This was clarified when Hager appeared in court yesterday – NZH: Colin Craig defamation trial: ‘Dirty Politics’ author Nicky Hager takes the stand

Hager originally agreed to give evidence for Craig but once the trial started he changed his mind.

“When the court case started it looked to be very personal and tawdry,” he explained.

“I did not want to be part of it anymore.”

He wrote to Craig’s’ lawyers and informed them of this, and in return was sent a subpoena ordering him to appear as a witness.

“Now, here I am,” he said.

There he was, for a short time. He read his statement and wasn’t cross examined.

Stuff summed up in Former Conservative board chair denies Colin Craig harassment allegations:

Hager gave evidence about the relationship between political blogs and the mainstream news media, and the media’s tendency to pick up stories of major political scandals broken by those blogs. 

He said Taxpayers Union founder Jordan Williams would “certainly have known” that Craig’s poem Two of Us would become a national news story after Williams leaked it to Whale Oil blogger Cameron Slater.

“Mr Williams would certainly have known it would be picked up and publicised in mainstream media.”

Hager gave evidence to the influence Whale Oil had, making reference to the blog breaking the story of Auckland mayor Len Brown’s affair. 

At the Herald link  Colin Craig defamation trial: ‘Dirty Politics’ author Nicky Hager takes the stand there is video of much of Hager’s statement.

So Hager told the jury what is already widely known about Whale Oil and Dirty Politics. Craig’s defence team obviously thought it was important enough to get him up to Auckland to read for ten minutes.

But it didn’t end there, with both sides of argument claiming victory on Twitter on whether Hager volunteered to appear or not, with Hooton leading the storm.

There’s been a lot of side shows and interrelated issues and agendas surrounding this tawdry case.

 

Dirty local body politics?

A story of ‘political skulduggery’ in Marlborough from Stuff: Marlborough councillors brand Whale Oil leak ‘despicable’

Political skulduggery has again rocked the council chamber in Marlborough as lawyers are called in to investigate a secret recording of a committee meeting leaked to a right-wing blog. 

The leak to Whale Oil could see heads roll at the council, as councillors who attended the meeting are made to front up on Monday.

A recording of a tense behind closed doors discussion about the cash-strapped ASB Theatre was published on the blog site on Friday.

Council chief executive Mark Wheeler said if a councillor had leaked the public-excluded discussion he or she could be asked to resign. 

The committee meeting took place in April. 

Councillor Peter Jerram said the leak was “absolutely orchestrated” and smacked of “dirty politics” emerging in Marlborough. 

“Party politics are definitely involved. But worse than that, it’s gutter politics.” 

Marlborough Mayor Alistair Sowman said the post was a clear attack on mayoral frontrunner Leggett, after a “very successful” attack on Sowman himself. 

Whale Oil involved in local body politics in Marlborough might seem a bit odd, they don’t usually do much about the provinces and most will have no idea who the current mayor of Marlborough is and who the candidates are.

But Whale Oil has had a number of posts on Marlborough local body politics over the last few months. Why? The Stuff article has a hint.

Political strategist Simon Lusk, who has links to Whale Oil, spoke at a local government seminar in Marlborough earlier this year attended by several council candidates. 

Lusk said at the time fighting for transparency was meaningless unless candidates opposed bad news being hidden in publicly excluded council meetings.

Lusk did not confirm or deny whether he was involved when contacted on Saturday. 

He was told information had come through on the blog’s tip line, he said. 

Why Lusk or Whale Oil might have such an interest in Marlborough local body politics is anyone’s guess.

There’s an unusual number of posts on Marlborough issues at Whale Oil going back to about June. No other regions have had this much attention so they stood out.

I never took much notice of the Marlborough posts apart from noticing they were there, they seemed local and not very interesting.

But what we have now is a story of wider interest:

  • a secret recording of a closed Marlborough District Council meeting in April
  • details of the recording published on Whale Oil in September, on the day that local body election voting papers are sent out
  • council chief executive Mark Wheeler said if a councillor had leaked the public-excluded discussion he or she could be asked to resign

Being asked to resign three weeks before the election closes might be horse bolted timing.

What if the leaker is a candidate for the election? Their name is already printed on the ballot and posted to voters, but it could affect votes.

The Marlborough Express (Stuff) has followed up with Marlborough council announces investigation into Whale Oil leak ahead of final meeting

A secret recording of a private council meeting has triggered an investigation into all councillors and staff who were at the meeting. 

The investigation will require everyone at the behind closed doors discussion in Marlborough to sign a statutory declaration saying they were not behind the recording or it being leaked to a right-wing blog. 

It is a criminal offence to knowingly make a false declaration.

They are taking it very seriously.

Meanwhile Whale Oil had a string of posts on it yesterday too.

As predicted yesterday the Marlborough Express has written an attack piece on me. They didn’t even call for comment.

After we busted John Leggett and the Marlborough Express tried to ignore the story there still remain a number of unanswered questions that I am sure the ratepayers of Marlborough wants answers to.

The Marlbourgh Express doesn’t seem to know the first rule of politics. Explaining is losing.

That’s funny considering the number of posts explaining everything.

Locals don’t dare speak out because their lives will be made hell.  Local news doesn’t dare speak up because their commercial viability is under threat if they speak up against their biggest advertisers.

More explaining. They could be important issues for people in Marlborough, but that’s local stuff that most people are unlikely to be interested in.

So they act like they are violated, scream “Whaleoil” and hope that voters will forget what it is really all about.

What an utter waste of rate payers’ money to try and figure out who helped the truth get to the public.

Stop screaming my name, and start taking responsibility for your own words and actions.

That’s more interesting, to me anyway.

A secret recording was taken of a closed door council meeting and supplied to a media outlet and published during an election campaign.

The recording is a serious matter. If it was a councillor they could be asked to resign. If it was a staff member  I expect it would potentially be a sackable offence.

But Cameron Slater and Whale Oil don’t think that how the information was obtained matters, or is excusable as the story they want to tell is what is important.

Nicky Hager thought something similar when he published Dirty Politics.

Another thing that puzzles me about this – how much influence would Whale Oil have on the Marlborough election?

Most people are barely or not interested in local body elections. Most Marlborough voters are unlikely to read Whale Oil.

I’m baffled as to why Whale Oil is giving so much coverage over several months for a relatively low interest issue that can hardly be attracting many clicks or much advertising to the blog.

It will be interesting to see whether Whale Oil sees their whistle blowing coverage of sufficient importance and interest to continue their coverage after the election.

Williams v Craig – punching back

The legal punching back has begun in Jordan Williams’ defamation case against Colin Craig.

RNZ: ‘If someone punches, you can punch back’ – Craig’s lawyer

Former leader of the Conservative Party Colin Craig believes the man suing him for defamation had a strategy aimed at removing him from the leadership of the Party.

Mr Craig’s defence was opened by his lawyer Stephen Mills QC, who told the the court the case rested on his client’s right to respond to an attack on his reputation.

“If someone punches you can punch back, within reason. And that’s the type of qualified privilege that Mr Craig is raising as a defence here. That he was responding to an attack upon his reputation by the things the plaintiff did,” he said.

After Mr Mills finished his brief statement, Colin Craig took to the stand, watched by Jordan Williams and Cameron Slater, whose blog, Whale Oil, published allegations about Mr Craig’s relationship with his press secretary, Rachel MacGregor.

Throughout early June last year, Mr Craig came under increasing pressure from his board, who had been told the allegations against him were about to go public.

When various revelations about Mr Craig were made on the Whale Oil Blog, he described the media onslaught as unrelenting.

“It’s dynamic material. If you’ve got sex, poems and money – six figure sums – all covered up in secret and you put that into a blog, every person in the media is going to want a piece of that story.”

“And that’s exactly what happened,” he said.

Mr Craig spent much of his time on the stand listing the media coverage that he said left his reputation in ruins.

He told the court he suspected Jordan Williams was behind the leak of information, and he had been proved right.

The jury will get to decide whether the punching back was justified in the circumstances or if it unfairly smeared Williams.

But before that Craig will continue giving his evidence today. Perhaps cross examination of him will also at least begin.

There are a number of other witnesses lined up to support Craig’s case after he has finished

Craig’s case outlined

The last witnesses for Jordan Williams gave evidence this morning, and this afternoon Colin Craig’s lawyer outlined their defence and then Craig began giving his evidence.

Again the Herald coverage is excellent – Colin Craig’s lawyer: ‘This trial is not about Rachel MacGregor’

Colin Craig’s lawyer has opened his case at the former Conservative Party leader’s High Court defamation trial, saying the case is not about Rachel MacGregor.

Stephen Mills QC says while Craig’s former press secretary’s evidence is relevant in parts – the trial and the issue at hand was not directly related to her, her relationship with Craig or her shock resignation.

Mills told the jury they needed to reflect on Williams and his actions, and whether he “acted with honesty and integrity”.

He said his client’s reputation was “reasonably shattered” by the “rumours” and “untrue statements about him” spread primarily by Williams.

“The defences that are being raised here are very standard for a defamation case – truth, what’s called honest opinion and privilege,” he said.

After Craig those who will take the stand:

  • Craig’s wife Helen
  • Family First director Bob McCoskerie
  • Sensible Sentencing Trust founder Garth McVicar
  • Former members of the Conservative Party
  • Martyn Bradbury
  • One of Craig’s staffers.
  • Others involved in the publication of the contentious pamphlet

Dirty Politics author Nicky Hagar would also give evidence about how blogs influence the mainstream media.

Dirty Politics looks like a significant part of Craig’s defence. Stuff perhaps nails the crux of it in Colin Craig says he thought of Rachel MacGregor as ‘like a sister’.

Mills highlighted how Williams had not only approached Conservative board members regarding Craig’s alleged sexual harassment of MacGregor, but he also forwarded poems Craig sent MacGregor to blog site Whale Oil. 

“You might want to reflect on, as the trial goes along, about whose interests were being served when Mr Williams gave that poem to Whale Oil,” Mills said. 

That is likely to be significant. Williams had denied any ‘Dirty Politics’ type attack.

In his evidence Craig said that he knew his affection for his then press secretary went “too far” but says he thought it was reciprocated.

Williams v Craig – Friday

NZ Herald summarises today in Colin Craig defamation trial: everything you need to know so far:

FRIDAY:
Cross examination continued for most of the day, with Mills questioning Williams motives for disclosing the letters and poems. He suggested Williams was driven by a want to have Craig removed as party leader. Williams agreed with that, saying he felt Craig was an inappropriate person to lead a Christian movement based on family values given his inappropriate conduct towards MacGregor. He maintains he was acting in her best interests and had a moral obligation to tell the party what he knew.

More details from RNZ in Jordan Williams questioned over Colin Craig love poems (audio):

The man suing Colin Craig for defamation has faced questions in court about why he gave blogger Cameron Slater a copy of a poem the former Conservative Party leader had written to his press secretary.

http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/checkpoint/audio/201815586/jordan-williams-questioned-over-colin-craig-love-poems#

Transcript:

John Campbell: The man who’s suing Colin Craig for defamation faced questions court about why he gave blogger Cameron Slater a copy of a poem the former leader of the Conservative Party had written to his secretary.

Jordan Williams, the Executive Director of the Taxpayers’ Union says he wasn’t trying to undermine Mr Craig, rather he was trying to set the record straight for Rachel MacGregor’s benefit.

Who would give embarrassing material to Slater for ‘the benefit’ of a woman who had asked for nothing to be passed on?

Sarah Robson: The jury has heard that Jordan Williams emailed Whale Oil blogger Cameron Slater a poem that Colin Craig had written for Rachel MacGregor. The poem was published on the same day Mr Craig stepped down from the leadership of the Conservative Party in June last year.

Mr Craig’s lawyer Mr Stephen Mills QC cross examined Mr Williams on his motivation for sending the poem, and whether it was party of a strategy to undermine his client.

Stephen Mills: The objective of that strategy from your perspective was?

Jordan Williams: Ah well it was, it was to protect Rachel. I think that by particularly by this day I was very angry, um, but I don’t think there was a, from the beginning a strategy to undermine, I mean there definitely wasn’t um a strategy to undermine Mr Craig or specifically use the information against him.

Sarah Robson: Jordan Williams told the court he became aware of a blog post Cameron Slater was planning to publish, that was going to suggest that Ms MacGregor was obsessed with Mt Craig, and that there had been a sexual relationship. Mr Mills questioned him about the agreement he reached with Mr Slater to give him the poem so the other story did not go online.

Stephen Mills: And was the agreement that if you gave him some good raw meat, then he wouldn’t run that story?

Jordan Williams: That is an interpretation yes. Right, yes i accept that. I wouldn’t call it raw meat but…

Sarah Robson: Mr Williams was pressed on whether his actions really were in Ms MacGregor’s interests given the media fire storm that resulted from the publication of the poem.

Jordan Williams: Because the public um and the media picked up on that there was no sexual relationship because they assumed they um Cameron had a very good source because he had the some of the material.

Stephen Mills: So it made this a national issue

Jordan Williams: It already was.You saw it on the, Paul Henry that morning, it was all over the news regardless.

Sarah Robson:  Jordan Williams also faced questions from Mr Mills about why he chose to send the poem to Mr Slater using the name Concerned Conservative rather than his own name.

Jordan Williams: It is something that I didn’t want my organisation to be associated with or to come out in some expose in twelve months time, and so like many of the sources that provide information to the Taxpayers’ Union I created an account so that later on if Mr Slater was hacked or whatever it wouldn’t, it wouldn’t come back to me.

Sarah Robson:  Under cross examination Mr Williams was asked how this was different to Mr Craig using the name Mr X as a literary device in the leaflet at the centre of the defamation case. Mr Williams said Mr Craig was being dishonest.

It will be interesting to see what else comes out. I had heard that other witnesses including MacGregor were expected to be called starting yesterday so it appears as if the cross-examination of Williams is going on longer than originally anticipated.

This is the post on Whale Oil last year (June 19) when the poem was published:

EXCLUSIVE: THE POEM COLIN CRAIG DOESN’T WANT YOU TO SEE

WhaleOil Media can reveal that Colin Craig failed to tell the Conservative Party’s Board that he previously faced serious allegations of sexual harassment from a former staff member in a complaint laid with the Human Rights Commission. It is understood that the claim lead to a confidential payout which until recently the Board were unaware of.

We have been told by members of the Board that they were assured on multiple occasions by Colin Craig that no allegations of a sexual or moral nature were involved and relied on one element of the claim, a series of unpaid invoices or a dispute in relation to the employee’s hourly rate, to hide the more serious allegations.

WhaleOil Media understands that no sexual relationship resulted, but Colin Craig is alleged to have pursued the staffer including sending a large volume of text messages, letters and inappropriate touching.

A source, which was supporting the victim as the events unfolded last year, has provided WhaleOil Media with some of the letters and text messages.

We are still working through the material.

To give you a flavour here is  a poem and the end of one of the letters.

Free political advice for the next Conservative Party leader: When you’re writing letters you might be sued over don’t sign the end of the letter. That way you can at least claim it’s a fake…

Pete Belt’s take on it:

wocraigpoembelt1

And also he shares a tweet from Williams:

wocraigpoembelt2

Slater joins in:

wocraigpoem3

There’s a lot of other known information around this and I can think of a number of interesting questions and points but at this stage prefer to wait and see what comes out in court.

From what has already come up in court it appears that Williams and therefore presumably Slater and Whale Oil only had part of the communications between Craig and MacGregor, and nothing from MacGregor to Craig.