Comments are the lifeblood of blogs

Posts are obviously essential for blogs, that’s what they primarily consist of. But comments give blogs life. A healthy commenting community is almost aan essential

There are exceptions – No Right Turn is followed and respected with no comments.

But mostly a blog with no or low comments is a sign of struggling to reach an audience, or ‘moderation’ that deters lively discussion – The Daily Blog is a good example of this (but the awful site layout and difficulty with knowing what the latest posts and comments are are also problems there).

Whale Oil still has an active commenting community, but this has diminished somewhat and seems to be concentrated on social rather than political discussion – a sign that message control moderation suppresses decent debate. Activity at Whale Oil has noticeably reduced since Cameron Slater had a stroke and stopped commenting altogether. Site failure to disclose what happened and apparent pretence that nothing had changed – possibly an attempt to try to protect revenue streams – has probably disappointed a number of now ex commenters too.

The most active commenting is on Kiwiblog – significantly more than on Whale Oil on political issues. This works in parallel to the often well informed posts from David Farrar. Very light moderation encourages a lot of commenters and comments, but detracting from this at times is the level of abuse tolerated there.

The Standard has changed significantly over it’s eleven or so years, in part due to substantial coming and going of authors. It’s commenting community has also changed quite a bit – recently I think for the better. They used to revel in gang attacks on anyone deemed some sort enemy of of ‘the left’, which was a form of self trashing as a serious forum for debate.

Then they turned over authors and moderation was dominated by ‘weka’, who tried to manage and manipulate comments to fit her agenda. She suddenly disappeared at about the same time Greens got into Government with Labour and NZ First. Since then there seem to be fewer posts apart from stalwart mickysavage keeping things ticking over, But the often toxic commenting environment seems to have improved significantly.

Recently MICKSAVAGE posted The Standard a decade on:

The site itself I believe offers a rich historical repository of contemporary New Zealand politics.  If you want to understand what has happened during the past decade from a left wing perspective then this site is a good place to start.

Proposals for suggested changes and critiques all welcome.

An interesting comment from Te Reo Putake (whose approach to blogging has evolved somewhat over many years involvement there):

He aha te mea nui o te ao? He tangata, he tangata, he tangata.

What is the most important thing in the world? It is the people, it is the people.

For mine, it is the commenters who make this place special. If you look at our comrade Bomber’s blog, which often has posts on the same topics as TS, there is no life in the comments section. As I understand it, each comment at TDB is held until released by a moderator. That means that there is no flow, no conversation, no engagement.

It’s different here. The commentary is effectively live and takes on a life of its own. This permissive approach to debate is vital to the Standard’s success. As WtB notes above, the community has to a large extent self regulated and the moderation workload has dropped considerably in recent times.

That may in part be due to a change of Government changing some agendas, but there seems to have been a noticeable change in moderation practice, with open support for diverse views being expressed, quote a contrast to past toxic intolerance..

I’d also like to give a nod to the righties who comment here. TS is not an echo chamber and differing opinions make for good debate. It’s great that conservative opinion is not shouted down, but rather, is argued against rationally. Well, mostly!

The site is better for the contributions from people we don’t agree with, in my opinion.

In my opinion this is a positive change at The Standard.

I’ll take up the challenge “Proposals for suggested changes and critiques all welcome”.

Fewer posts attacking the Opposition.

More posts debating topical Government initiatives and proposals, and allowing wide ranging discussions (with personal attacks discouraged).

Through that I think that The Standard could become a more useful part of wider political discussion in New Zealand – comments are the lifeblood of political blogs. Too much bad blood is a real negative and puts many people off, but The Standard seems to have found a fairly good formula for now.

Victim complex at Whale Oil

It’s not just Cameron Slater and SB who play the victim card hard at Whale Oil. Some of the remaining support crew there are joining the loyal cry baby choir, making claims that are closer to the reverse of what has actually been happening.

From Comment of the day today (from ‘George’):

Have you ever asked yourself why the left, in cohorts with the MSM, exert so much energy, time and resource, both legally and illegally, attempting to discredit and silence Whale Oil Beef Hooked?

I will tell you why. Because we are “Focusing on what matters to us”. So next time the media asks you whether you read Whaleoil, don’t be intimidated by association. That’s playing into the left’s objective of silencing opposing views. They fear Whaleoil because it represents a real opposition to their ideological cancer. You are either for us or against us. Get off the fence and “Focus on what matters to us”.

I don’t see the left or the media spend much energy, time and resource attempting to discredit Whale Oil. Most of the discrediting of Whale Oil has come from the right of politics, and from a sole blog operating outside the mainstream media. Slater, Lusk and Ross (and a few others) have inflicted the most blows to credibility at Whale Oil.

“Focusing on what matters to us” – not unusual for a blog. That’s what just about all of them do.

I doubt there many in the media going around asking people if they read Whale Oil. Why would they? Curiosity about who has survived there, and why curiosity about why they remain loyal? That would be kind of interesting, but most people, and most of the mainstream media’s audience, don’t know about or don’t care about political blogs.

Who has been legally challenging Whale Oil? It doesn’t seem to be the media. The legal challenges I have seen have been:

  • The police, who successfully prosecuted Slater on five counts of breaches of court non-publication orders (suppression).
  • The police, who charged Slater with attempting to procure an illegal hacking of a left wing blog (The Standard).
  • Colin Craig, who sued Slater for defamation. The court found that Slater had defamed Craig, but no damages were awarded. Craig is not left wing.
  • Matthew Blomfield, who sued Slater for defamation (and appears to have been successful). I’m not aware of any political preferences involved there, the campaign against Blomfield on Whale Oil was due to a business relationship turning sour.
  • Dr Doug Sellman, Dr Boyd Swinburn and Shane Bradbrook are currently suing Slater for defamation as a result of an attack campaign on Whale Oil. The biggest issue here seems to be whether the New Zealand Food and Grocery Council paid PR company owner Carrick Graham and/or to Slater attack the academics. There appears to be no direct link to politics.

I don’t see any sign of the media being a party to any of these legal proceedings apart from reporting on some of them some of the time.

There are some legal proceedings involving Slater and media:

  • Slater was an informant and a witness in a failed private prosecution of APN Limited and Lynn Prentice  – Slater and Dermot Nottingham were trying to silence NZ Herald and The Standard blog.
  • Slater was an informant and nmed as a witness in a failed private prosecution of llied Press limited and myself – Slater and Nottingham were trying to silence Otago Daily Times and Your NZ.
  • Slater was associated with a failed attempt by marc Spring to silence Your NZ.

So Slater has been actively involved in trying to silence opposing views, the reverse of what ‘George’ claims.

“The left’s objective of silencing opposing views” is a topical issue, but Whale Oil doesn’t figure in that debate, which is mostly raging on the left.

There’s probably more people who fear tadpoles than fear Whale Oil.

“You are either for us or against us” – funny. I think this is a risky way of trying to consolidate some sort of power base. There are shrinking numbers at Whale Oil, and it is increasingly common to see challenges to the activist aims there, especially when anti-National. Trying to run an ‘us versus them’ campaign will likely alienate more of the remaining stalwarts.

Whale Oil is a victim of sorts – of their own failures. Making ludicrous claims while claiming to be victims just damages their own credibility further, if that were possible.

‘Sick’ – Simon Lusk comes out at WO

It was unusual to see two posts from Simon Lusk at Whale Oil yesterday, he has fed content to be posted under ‘Cameron Slater’ for a long time but doesn’t often put his own name to it. This coming out may have been necessitated by  Slater having a break from posting, thought to be due to illness.

The Lusk posts revived attacks against the leadership of Simon Bridges after the Jami-Lee Ross debacle that backfired, probably bolstering bridges’ position as leader for the time being at least. Lusk was trying to stir up National MPs against Bridges.

His attempt at interference probably went down like a cup of cold sick in the National caucus, where it is thought that Lusk, Ross and Slater are politically toxic.

The first post: National’s polling released to caucus today

I think that is a regular part of National’s polling and caucus meetings so is hardly news. Lusk tried to suggest what the internal polling would show, but I would be very surprised if pollster David try to topple Bridges. So I think it is reasonable to assume that Lusk was guessing.

But apart from some of the usual sycophant and sock puppet type responses in comments, Lusk referring to a National MP as ‘sick’ (he repeated it three times) went down like a cup of cold sick at Whale oil.

ExPFC: Ok Simon. I guess maybe I’ve missed something so here goes anyway. Why “sick” Todd?

spanishbride: It is a silly ‘in’ joke. It is a criticism of his taste in something.

Jayar: “Silly” is the word. It’s demeaning and doesn’t seem to be deserved.

Cogito Ergo Sum: Yes, all A bit tiresome Mr Lusk. Riddles don’t add to the story. Neither does constant demeaning of people.

The ‘sick’ label can’t be passed off as a silly joke. Using ‘joke’ as an excuse for smearing name calling is an old trick.

The follow-up post: Polling advice for National MPs

An obvious overt attempt to influence National MPs. And to publicly promote dissent. And an attempt to get to pressure them – “Whaleoil readers should send a link to their local National MP”.

In this post Lusk repeated the ‘sick’ label five times. On this post the WO dissent cranked up straight away:

pisces: Why is he called ‘Sick’ Todd? I was under the impression this site didn’t nicknames etc

I think that nicknames are frowned on at Whale Oil except when Slater/Lusk/SB/Nige want to smear people – a typical double standard.

Terry: The repetition of such a demeaning nickname says much more about Lusk than it does about McClay.

Jayar: Absolutely agree!

Kaimai6: Thought exactly the same. The story could have been told without the use of the demeaning language. A bit pathetic really for a supposed political whizz kid.

The Lusk/Slater playbook is often pathetic, and impotent post ‘Dirty Politics’. Dirty attack politics is increasingly being seen as being as appealing as cold sick.

Talking of sick, Slater seems to have sufficiently recovered from his illness to start commenting again. Since his sudden silence three weeks ago, apparently suffering one or more strokes but not admitted in WO, Slater had posted (in comments) a couple of lame product promotions, but yesterday tried to bolster Lusk’s attacks. Weakly and poorly supported – there was far more support of the criticisms of Lusk.

While it still supports an active (but significantly smaller) community, as an activist attack blog Whale Oil is ailing.

Why has Lusk come out into open smear-mongering now? With Ross sick, and Slater sick, he may have had little option to dish up the cold sick himself.

Whale Oilers fed up with Whale Oil attempts to push JLR agenda

For about a week Cameron Slater pushed the Jami-Lee Ross agenda hard, then suddenly and mysteriously last week dropped out of sight. That could be through illness, or it could be a stunt. Whale Oil management has not informed the loyal following that remains (numbers suggest many have given up on Slater and WO) what is going on. Slater’s name is being used to promote a mail order meat business but otherwise has gone to ground.

SB has tried to keep stoking the Ross agenda, using similar techniques to Slater to smear and threaten by insinuation (presuming it is her writing the posts, uncertain authorship has long been a WO thing).

But apart from a few die hard supporters and sock puppets SB and Ross are getting a negative message from commenters at WO.

A post today:  How long can Simon Bridges avoid questions about Jami-Lee Ross?

Simon Bridges is trying the strategy of refusing to answer any more questions about Jami-Lee Ross.

This is not going to work out well for him. The media are following every tweet from Ross and are publishing it within minutes. Then there are the other questions the media want answers to.

Who is she trying to fool? Most of the media are over it. And going by this, so are the Oilers:

WIC:

I have said it before and I will say it aging. Except for the media, No One Cares.

rantykiwi:

I actually feel that ignoring the yappy little JLR who hasn’t yet managed to back up his words with evidence isn’t a bad strategy.

omlete:

from the transcript published yesterday it seemed like Simon and Paula were being pretty kind to JLR.

Jman:

I think the JLR story is pretty much over with the general consensus being that JLR has acted like a boofhead and Bridges and Bennett have come away relatively unscathed. If I’m being perfectly honest, I actually think Bridges appears to have handled this whole thing with some integrity. I say this as someone who has never been a Bridges fan.

kayaker:

If some people in the media persist in giving this oxygen (stalking JLR’s Twitter and reporting every little tweet, how sad are they), I hope they feel proud of themselves when JLR hits the wall again.

DJG:

I think ignoring JLR is the right strategy for now.
If he returns to parliament and starts to release more “tales out of school” I think the public will lose interest in him very quickly. It will not help his chances of re-election in Botany.
If he starts to “lift the bed sheets” on National the best solution would be to drop a current journo’s past in to the mix, the media will soon stop prodding JLR for gossip

Des:

It’s incredible how long the media have spent on this non-issue, as opposed to their efforts dissecting Labor’s policies…

Osiris:

Absolutely the right strategy.They should have started earlier, though. Nothing magic. It’s just the ‘in a hole, stop digging’ advice. Don’t comment and you can’t be questioned further. Well done Simon et al – at last.

Geoffrey Firmin:

I’m with Simon on this. I’ve read my last article about J-L Ross. I’d never heard of him until he went on mental health leave a few weeks ago. He’s a nobody getting far too much attention.

sarahmw:

And he has given his proxy vote to NZFirst ?Now why would Winston want or need that? I felt sorry for the guy but this dripfeeding of so called info is not helping him. I’m over it and hope the people advising JLR encourage him to take the time to get well.

Second time around:

The main thing the JLR saga has done is raise Dirty Politics again along with the Exclusive Brethren and the murky National Party back history. To a swing voter that is all poison and will undermine Judith Collins’ prospects of ever becoming party leader and PM.

kayaker:

Bridges has read it pretty well. People are over it. Those who remain interested strike me as ambulance chasers who have a ghoulish interest without any concern for the mental health of Jami-Lee Ross. This is another disaster (for JLR) waiting to happen and I hope someone who cares can get to him and help him soon. I’ve said before that I really feel for his family (especially his children), it’s hard to fathom that he wants to keep hurting them.

It looks like Whale Oil management has lost their own base on this, following eighteen months of pissing off their base with a torrent of attacks on National while promoting NZ First – who have decided to proxy vote for Ross in Parliament.

Slater and Peters supporting the most toxic MP in Parliament, while the Whale Oilers send a clear message they are over it all. If Whale Oil keeps trying to flog National dead all they may have to flog off is a dead whale without ant meat.

They have proven the blog can survive without Slater, sort of, but if they keep trying to be lame versions of dirt mongers they may become the tumbleweed.

What’s up at Whale Oil?

There have been noticeable changes at Whale Oil over the last couple of days. After a frenetic few weeks in a resurgence of activity from Cameron Slater there was a switch on Monday to self and site promotion, and then yesterday a noticeable absence.

Slater had been doing little more than going through the motions for months, with little more than two or three token posts per day, and little of note. He came back with a roar getting involved with the Jami-Lee Ross saga, in support of Ross and ramping up his long running attacks against the National Party, Simon Bridges and other MPs, as well as bringing up his gripes against John Key and Bill English.

He also did a flurry of posts on the release of the Craig v Slater defamation judgment, claiming vindication and victory, despite losing on two counts to Craig, and failing to win on his claims. No damages were awarded, with costs to be dealt with but little likelihood he would come out on top let alone breaking even financially.

On Monday he was still making big noises about revealing information and identities involved in the Jami-Lee Ross issues.

But there were signs of change, with an admission that Whale Oil had been shedding subscribers due to his attacks on National, and a number of self promotion posts trying to say how great he was. Some of this sounded like jacked up endorsements.

Yesterday (Tuesday) there were a couple of posts under Slater’s authorship, but these looked like standard style scheduled posts that have been common for some time – often following the news by a day or two.

And Slater has suddenly stopped commenting – his last comment was on Monday night (9:25 pm).

It has been common for Slater to be away from the WO front line due to various commitments, like court appearances, but this was a sudden change from his recent activities and threats of revelations.

Also noticeable yesterday was a lack of input from ‘spanishbride’ – there were a few standard style and probably scheduled posts from ‘SB’, but also suddenly no comments.

The blog kept functioning with a normal range of innocuous posts from the various authors who have become involved over the last years or so, but there was a sudden subdued feel after the hectic couple of weeks prior.

Blogging can be a relentless job, especially when it is run as a business as is Whale Oil. And the way Slater operates, with his resurgence over the last couple of weeks attacking enemies and losing support, as well as getting some unfavourable and potentially costly court results, will have been tough.

For some time Slater has appeared jaded and worn down, and the lack of success in the recent flurry of attention and activity probably won’t have helped. He and SB have also talked of  health problems over the last couple of years.

There seemed to be a sudden and unexplained cessation of activity yesterday.

Slater had ‘good and lucid discussion’ with Ross just before ‘suicide’ text

Someone emailed me and pointed out what could be a significant part of Cameron Slater”s post Another hit job from David Fisher which I must correct and tell the truth that the National party fails to

Saturday 20th October – Jami-Lee Ross is back in Auckland, but he is homeless. He has slept in his car and hasn’t slept much over the past week. He phones me at approximately 8:30 pm and he is distraught. We had a good and lucid discussion. However, as he sat there in his car he began scrolling through his past messages and he came across the nasty text from the female MP. It set him off. At 8:51 pm he texts her and then turns his cell phone off. She frantically tries to respond via text and makes 4 phone calls to him. He turns his phone on and off over the next three hours.

This says that Ross was distraught before talking to Slater and before scrolling back through his texts.

There is very specific detail in this from Slater, in which he says he had “a good and lucid discussion” with Ross just before Ross scrolls through old texts and then replies “You get your wish” to a two month old text from a National MP which, Slater claims, triggers a suicide alert.

Slater says that the text “set him off” – but that wasn’t the only thing that would have been influencing Ross at that time, given he was having a discussion with Slater.

It could be that Slater was unable to de-distraught Ross, but that’s not the only possibility in this situation.

Also in the same paragraph:

At one stage, a journalist communicates with him. as her company had someone stationed near his house and had observed a Police i-car turn up. [WO:  The journalist concerned has contacted me to clarify this situation. I am satisfied that there was no company watcher in place] She was concerned. This short text conversation occurred at 10:25 pm as Jami-Lee Ross was driving to the Waikato.

Rather ironically in a post headlined “which I must correct and tell the truth” Slater stated as a fact something he now acknowledges was not the truth.

Craig v Slater – the biggest losers

Finally after waiting eighteen months for a judgment on their tit for tat defamation trial Colin Craig and and Cameron Slater are both claiming some sort of victory, but the overwhelming response is that they are both losers.

Craig technically won – he succeeded on two claims that Slater defamed him. But:

  • he lost most of his claims
  • there was no award of damages because “the reputational damage which Mr Craig suffered throughout the events traversed at length in the judgment resulted almost entirely from his own actions”
  • “It is true that Mr Craig was guilty of moderately serious sexual harassment of Rachel MacGregor, on multiple occasions”

Technically Slater succeeded in defending most of Craaig’s claims, but he failed on both his claims of defamation, as Craig was found to be “entitled to the defence of qualified privilege in reply to an attack on him by Mr Slater”, so no damages there either (he asked for $8,117,010).

Costs are yet to be decided. Craig represented himself so cannot claim much in the way of costs and disbursements.

Slater lost the case, and Craig won a part of his case, so Slater may have difficulty claiming much if any of what will be substantial legal costs. There seems no chance of him getting all costs, and any he might get will be going to his lawyers, so the dream of a legal fighting fund that was mentioned when Whale Oil eyes lit up when Jordan Williams was awarded over a million dollars (now quashed) is now a financial burden, if not nightmare.

Summary from Courts of New Zealand:

The claimant, Colin Craig, laid 15 separate defamation claims in relation to statements made by Mr Slater
either on his blogsite or in other media.

Mr Craig alleged that he suffered serious damage to his reputation as a consequence of allegedly untrue statements published by the defendants, Mr Cameron Slater and Social Media Consultants Limited (SMCl) (the company which establishes the Whaleoil blog).

Mr Slater made two counterclaims.

The matter was heard by judge-alone over 17 days in May – June 2017, with final submissions not received until September 2018.

In brief, Mr Craig alleged that Mr Slater and Whaleoil caused him serious reputational damage by publishing untrue statements based on information leaked to him by a friend of Ms MacGregor, Mr Jordan Williams, and a Conservative Party board member, Mr John Stringer, about Mr Craig and the Party’s internal problems; electoral funding and the Party’s finances; and a rumoured sexual harassment claim by Ms MacGregor.

Mr Craig sought declarations under s 24 of the Defamation Act 1992 that the defendants are liable to him
in defamation. He also claimed general, aggravated and punitive damages of unspecified amounts and
costs.

Mr Slater counterclaimed, saying he was himself defamed in a booklet entitled Dirty Politics and Hidden Agendas which Mr Craig published, allegedly in defence of the attacks he claims Mr Slater and others made upon him, following his resignation in 2015. The booklet was circulated to more than 1.6 million New Zealand homes. Mr Slater claims that the contents of the booklet defamed him by implying, among other things, that he developed or coordinated the strategy to defame and spread lies about Mr Craig and published material on his blog knowing it not to be true.

Mr Slater claimed general damages of $8,117,010 on a proposed basis of $5.00 for each of the 1,623,402 New Zealand homes to which the booklet was delivered.

The result and orders

Mr Craig failed on his principal causes of action against Mr Slater. He did so because the Court found, for reasons set out in full in the judgment, that Mr Craig had been guilty of moderately serious sexual harassment of Ms MacGregor; that he had made a substantial financial settlement with her on confidential terms in exchange for the withdrawal of her claims to the Human Rights Tribunal; and that he had deliberately misled the Conservative Party board about those matters.

The court found other statements and assertions were untrue statements. However, the court held that Mr Slater could rely on the defence of “responsible communication on a matter of public interest” with respect to all but two of these untrue statements and imputations.

This new defence was available to Mr Slater despite his personal animosity towards Mr Craig, because the Court found he was principally motivated to release into the public arena information which he believed to be reliable and which would inform public discussion on a matter of undoubted public interest.

The Court found that to hold that Mr Slater was deprived of the defence of responsible communication on a matter of public interest, merely because of his views about Mr Craig, would be to tilt the balance between freedom of expression on a matter of public interest and protection of reputation too far in favour of the latter. Such a finding would have an unduly chilling effect on political discourse of the kind which the public interest defence is designed to recognise.

HELD: The Judge declared, under s 24 of the Defamation Act 1992, that Mr Slater and SMCl are liable to Mr Craig in defamation for only two untrue statements:. The Court found Mr Slater had no defence for the untrue statements that Mr Craig:
(i) had placed Ms Rachel MacGregor under financial pressure to sleep with him; and
(ii) sexually harassed at least one victim other than Ms MacGregor.

The Judge dismissed the remaining causes of action in defamation, either on grounds that the defence of truth was upheld or on the basis the publications were responsible communications on a matter of public interest.

While this meant Cameron Slater and Social Media Consultants Limited were liable to Colin Craig in defamation for these two statements, the Court ruled he was not entitled to an award of damages because the reputational damage which Mr Craig suffered throughout the events traversed at length in the judgment resulted almost entirely from his own actions.

Mr Slater’s counterclaims

Mr Slater counterclaimed for allegedly defamatory statements made in the booklet.

The Court dismissed Mr Slater’s counterclaims against Mr Craig. It found that while many of the assertions Mr Craig had made about Mr Slater in his booklet Dirty Politics and Hidden Agendas, were untrue – including the assertion that Mr Slater made up allegations and was a liar – Mr Craig was entitled to the defence of qualified privilege in reply to an attack on him by Mr Slater.

On that basis, Mr Slater’s counterclaim in defamation was dismissed.

From the judgment on costs:

Bearing in mind that each of the parties has both succeeded and failed in the proceeding in varying degrees, and having regard to the complexity and significance of the proceeding, it will be obvious that the determination of costs will require careful consideration by the parties and by the Court.

Costs are reserved for the exchange of memoranda and will be determined on the papers unless the Court directs otherwise.

This could take some time.

Full decision of J Toogood: PDF document icon CSEJ.pdf — PDF document, 1.82 MB, 250 pages

Craig has claimed a win but acknowledges that is limited. He says he is considering an appeal.

Mr ‘explaining is losing’ Slater has done a number of posts on the judgment at Whale Oil claiming some sort of victory and vindication, but it looks like trying to make a silk purse out of a boar’s bum. There has been only a a little bit of congratulations and support in comments, seemingly from a mix of blind supporters and sycophants with perhaps some sock puppets.

David Farrar seems to have obtained an advance copy of the judgment and what looked like a pre-prepared post that appears to be trying to paint lipstick on a pig – Zero damages in Craig vs Slater.

Comments there are overwhelmingly negative towards Craig and to Slater in particular.

There was a brief flurry of response on Twitter, largely critical of the two litigants, and also praising the ‘both losers’ result.

Craig’s reputation was already in tatters, this just reinforces that. The decision puts pressure on his ongoing defamation proceedings versus Jordan Williams – arguing appropriate damages in Williams v Craig, and his counter suit Craig v Williams.

Surely Craig must now drop his defamation claim against Rachel MacGregor.

And any political ambitions must be gone or futile.

Slater comes out of this with his reputation of a political activist and dirty attack blogger largely intact (remember that his attacks were based on information supplied by Jordan Williams in a breach of MacGregor’s privacy and highly questionable for a lawyer). His financial stress remains.

And Slater has another legal headache looming as he awaits a judgment on the Blomfield v Slater defamation case. This is similar in that involved a series of attacks on Matthew Blomfield via Whale Oil, but it is different in that Blomfield didn’t get drawn into a public spat and overreach like Craig. Blomfield just tenaciously pursued Slater through the courts, despite numerous appeals and delays.

Whale Oil has also suffered. Slater’s bold claims of legal success have proven to be like many of his claims, over-optimistic and overblown, so his credibility has taken another hit, at the same time that he continues shedding support due to his ongoing attacks on National.

In five consecutive posts on the decision at WO there have been a total of 56 comments (23 on one post is the most), compared to 85 comments on a single post at Kiwiblog.

 

Whale Oil at further risk over JLR fallout

Whale Oil is risking a further slide from influence and credibility in the fallout over the Jami-Lee Ross saga, with Cameron Slater threatening to run an attack campaign against Simon Bridges and national MPs and party officials. This is a continuation of a bitter war Slater has waged since he was ostracised and isolated from the party.

Whale Oil has slumped in influence, and it has also been sliding in support. This latest hissy fit is likely to drive more people away from the blog, at a time that Slater is trying to raise donations and revenue to pay for what be large and growing legal bills as a result of past campaigns of attack that have resulted in defamation actions against Slater.

Whale Oil grew to be the biggest political blogging and social media presence in New Zealand, peaking in 2014 before two major changes – first due the purges of commenters through the middle of the year to try to impose control and threats over messaging, and then the publishing of Nicky Hager’s ‘Dirty Politics’ in August.

WO has stumbled and fallen since then.

Most of the time now Slater seems barely interested or involved, posting a couple of token cut and paste moans a day. Most of the blog is now dominated with click bait filler, apart from the fund raising advertisements.

It is hard to know what WO site statistics are doing but they must be waning. A slump in the number of comments is noticeable, which suggests the support base is dwindling.

As well as being a shadow of his former blogging status Slater has kept annoying his base. He raised eyebrows and ire with his campaign against National through last year’s election campaign.

Slater was frequently questioned and criticised for his support of Winston Peters in what must be one of the most remarkable switches in support in New Zealand politics. Prior to this Peters had been a frequent target of Slater.

It seemed that Slater saw a rise in NZ First as the best way of dumping on National. It also coincided with Slater being represented in his defamation trial versus Colin Craig by Winton’s lawyer.

Since last year’s election Whale Oil has been reinvented as a multi author magazine style site with a bare minimum input from Slater. Numbers that matter seemed to be down but it chugged away with some remaining community support.

But last week on the bck of the Ross saga Slater re-emergence as a bitter opponent of Bridges, Paula Bennett, John Key, Bill English and just about everything National. He tried to distance himself from what Ross was doing, but has given contradictory signs of how closely he has been involved there.

In the weekend when he threatened to revive his war against National this week there was noticeable opposition in comments (there was some support but some of that at least looked like manufactured sock puppet support).

A slump in comment numbers suggests that WO support has taken another hit.

This isn’t good timing for attempts to boost site revenue that appears to be required to foot the growing legal bills. The Craig v Slater judgment is still not out (but lawyers tend to want their bills paid). Slater was back in court early this month after he ran out of delaying efforts in the defamation case Matthew Blomfield took against him.

Indications are that this didn’t go well for Slater and his company (Social Media Consultants are co-defendants). Slater has been publicly quiet about the outcome, which is a sign that things didn’t go well. The pre-trial confidence of ‘Bill Brown’ has dissipated. The trial was set down for 4-6 weeks, but it appears to have been over in about a week. These are all signs that the legal stress has ramped up.

So annoying remaining supporters is going to make things tougher, especially as more of them wake up to the bullshit and lies Slater has been spinning.

On Kiwiblog yesterday David Farrar suggested the opposite to Slater in Maybe time for media to pause also but more telling were some of the comments that would not be allowed on WO:

“However, Cam Slater has promised that there will be more action this week. I hope this is just his usual empty bluster.”

“I hope they pause today and realise nothing good comes of what is now looking like Slater’s personal vendetta against National with JLR as his and Lusk’s mouthpiece.”

“Yes, WhaleOil seems determined to bring down Simon Bridges. My opinion of Slater has sunk further after this sorry saga.

“As has mine and also that of his wife, who I used to think of as the sensible one in the marriage. After her weekends efforts on Twitter I see she is just as bad.”

“As an avid supporter of WO for a long time, I will not be contributing, or reading it again either.”

“I used to be a regular WhaleOil reader and considered Slater to be trustworthy and politically astute. I came very close to donating money to him. However, various things slowly turned me off. The final straws were the insane UN Resolution 2334 campaign and the NZ First endorsement.”

“When key left and Collins was not nominated as leader he just went into meltdown for no other reason that English was in the party when his father was kicked out, it has moved from an actual right wing political site to a more left wing site of ‘lets show the bastards I’m not to be ignored’ anti national site. And the site commentators dare not tell him him he is wrong or they will be banned. His site is quickly slipping into irrelevance.”

“WO must have got up this morning and sucked on half a dozen lemons because hes back at it this morning slagging off the National Party.”

“I for one will no longer give his rants my eyeballs and thus the clicks he so desperately desires.”

“Blinded by Utu – regardless of whether there was proximate cause several years ago is still blinded.

Slater has lost my respect – and I am someone who funded his court case and put a couple of hundy his way to help the blog a year or so back.

Maybe I am a slow learner and he was always a vicious nutter, but I thought he was a refreshing antidote to the PC bollox on the MSM.

Maybe he will be again one day, but this third rate attempt to create an Iago to take down National is just cretinous.”

“Yes and their Leader blubber is trying to turn it into a cult with his lies and innuendo, you only have to read the dozen or so posts on backchat by this idiot to see how most of the deluded followers jump in behind and praise his demented agenda. How the NZ Media can take comments from a person like this just show how immoral corrupt they are.”

Most of the media now ignore Slater, but he may have got some utu support from RNZ – see Slater threatened retribution for JLR, RNZ delivers.

But this is likely to help drive WO into irrelevance.

Yesterday Slater posted another anti-National moan: Of course they won’t use the waka jumping law, they’d confirm what a bunch of hypocrites they really are

Typically ironic Slater says in comments:

Amazing how quickly one can sell out their principles isn’t it?

Another commenter:

I don’t think journalists will be digging up much in the forseeable future. There’s total silence in the msm while Mr Ross focuses on his recovery. And it would be inappropriate for National to take any action while Mr Ross is resolving his own issues.

That’s ironic given Slater’s promise to dig and dish dirt. Another commenter:

Why would anyone want to do a`deal` with a person who has the propensity to wake up one morning and throw all the toys out of the cot, destroy his family due to his weaknesses and show neither trust or integrity in both personal and professional life? You sure as hell would not want someone like that standing behind you in the trenches.

Slater responded:

You really don’t know what you are talking about. You are only going on information that was fed tot eh media, designed to push people like you into a place where you only believe what you have read, Why don’t you pause and work out why it is that someone would have gone nuclear. Perhaps they had no more choices, they knew they were being lined up and did whatever it took. Think about that for a minute.

Trying to claim Ross is a victim with no choice but to lash out. But Slater has a long record of claiming the opposite of truth and reality.

The numbers say quite a bit. That looks like Slater’s main post on JLR yesterday. 42 comments.

The Kiwiblog JLR post had 171 comments.

Uncharted Waters at The Standard, 174 comments.

Even on this little blog Jami-Lee Ross ‘improving’, uncertainty over future has 78 comments.

In inverse proportion to the level of Slater whining Whale Oil was already waning. They may survive, at least until a defamation judgment hits them financially, but the Whale is sliding into further irrelevance as they annoy even those supporters who held on for years.

Slater on Whale Oil had already largely become Wail Oil, but now seems more like Whimper Toil.

Slater threatened retribution for JLR, RNZ delivers

RNZ’s Checkpoint has gone alarmingly low in support of a campaign of retribution.

In the weekend Cameron Slater threatened to go public with dirt targeting people in the National Party, in a knee jerk reaction to the Jami-Lee Ross revelations of harassment of multiple women (at least four and as many as fifteen are numbers mentioned). See:

On Checkpoint yesterday afternoon RNZ delivered what looks like the first shot, publicising details of a text sent from a possible victim of Ross to Ross. This dumped on a National MP on behalf of ‘a supporter’ of Ross.

Whether the text (and reportedly other communications) were supplied to RNZ by Slater or someone else associated with Ross or Slater doesn’t make much difference.

For obvious reasons it has been assumed by a number of people as Slater (there is no evidence of this except for Slater’s threats and his claimed support of Ross over the weekend).

Slater and Whale Oil have a reputation for dishing out dirt. The over the top attacks on Len Brown just after the 2013 Auckland mayoral election is a prominent example, but there are many others.

Ross reacted badly under self inflicted pressure last week. Slater has a long record of acting poorly under pressure, lashing out. Both try to claim they are in fact the victims (they may actually feel they are victims, but their actions and especially their responses under pressure suggest otherwise).

RNZ publicised an “abusive text” “believed to have been sent to Jami-Lee Ross in August” by a woman who had aapparently just ended a relationship with Ross.  RNZ did not quote the text, nor could they give any context, but out of a claimed 61 words they quoted just four – “you deserve to die”.

The text includes a slew of abuse and personal insults about Mr Ross’ appearance and personality.

That doesn’t sound good, but one could presume there was a lot of angst and emotion involved, as there often is when relationships turn sour.

The text sent in August was 61 words long. The message – along with other texts – was provided to RNZ by a supporter of the Botany MP with his permission.

Questions have been asked on RNZ on this.

Like why they are dishing out dirt on behalf of someone who was committed to mental health care on Sunday (now reported to have been released in the care of ‘a friend’), regardless of permission being granted or not. RNZ don’t say what form this permission took. I hope they relied on something more substantial than the word of ‘a supporter’.

And why are RNZ involved in what looks like vexatious utu, after Slater had threatened to do just that in what looks like another attempt to destabilise and trash National. Slater has been running bitter attacks against National leaders, MPs and party officials for years – ever since he was shunned as a part of the Dirty Politics fallout in 2014.

I hope that Lisa Owen and Checkpoint producers and RNZ reflect on what they have become a willing party to, and revise their standards. It is probably too late to undo the damage they have aided and abetted, but they should give some indication that being a sock puppet of Ross and Slater is not a good look, especially for a public broadcaster.

Ross has gone just about as low as any MP has gone.

Slater has a long reputation for attacking and trying to trash people, he is probably widely considered to be the lowest of New Zealand bloggers (he has called himself a journalist but he is more of a agenda, money and hate driven arse).

Do RNZ really want to lower themselves to those standards?


UPDATE: Slater appears to confirm things. he posted yesterday…

It’s going to get worse for National.

…with a link to the RNZ story. Also:

Two sides to every story is what I am seeing here…and now the second side is being told.

The Slater side of any story should always be viewed with a lot of scepticism. He is a self confessed ’embellisher’ and is known to say the opposite of truth and reality.

 

Bull and hypocrisy (again) from Slater

On Monday SB posted on Whale Oil:

Starting today Cam is back in the High Court for up to four weeks depending on how the trial goes.

A lot has changed on the blog since our last court case and the good news is that we now have an amazing Whaleoil team of writers who will be stepping up to fill the time slots that Cam usually fills.

Last time Cam was able to do some posts because we rented an apartment that was walking distance from the court so there was no long commute to and from the court each day.  This time around Cam will be doing the long commute between the city and Whangaparaoa each day instead.

Implying there would be no time to post.

I have done a Jacinda and made a Captain’s Call. I have put my foot down and told him that he is not to write on the weekends until the case is over.

But two days later, on Wednesday morning, Slater wrote a post called Battling Lawfare, which was loaded with bull and hypocrisy, plus a plea for donations to pay for legal bills (defamation proceedings lasting six years and defamation trials lasting 4 weeks can be very expensive regardless of any awards). Later in the morning the post disappeared, .with an explanation in  another post with the same headline

The earlier post regarding the current proceedings that Cam is involved in has been ordered down by the court.

Legal bills are mounting again so here is how you can continue to help us to fight the good fight.

There was no evidence given that the court ordered the take down, but there were some parts of the post that could cause concerns for the court – or for a defence lawyer. (Slater has had problems with this in the past – see Slater fined for contempt of court).

There was never any explanation of what the legal proceedings were about, apart from vague ‘fight the good fight’ and claiming victimhood. I posted some background here – Whale Oil be fucked? Defamation trial against Slater starting on Monday.

In his post yesterday Slater implied similar accusations to those he is being sued for defamation for. I won’t repeat them here.

Some things he said were more general, showing his habit of self interested bull and rank hypocrisy. Slater:

Legal action was started six years ago, but given the nature of [redacted], the plaintiff hasn’t actually been very keen to get the case before the court and has used every trick in the book to avoid this trial while I have fought to get the case before the judge.

I think that if you look back through the court judgments online (only some on the six year saga are online) you will see the opposite is closer to the truth.

This is an absurd claim from Slater. Blomfield has persisted for six years to get this to trial. As the Plaintiff, all he would need to do to “avoid this trial” would be to withdraw the proceedings. Slater’s “I have fought to get the case before the judge” sounds delusional, unless it is just bull to try to get sympathy and defence fund donations.

He claims to be a victim of ‘lawfare’ when he has attacked people via the courts himself.

I will not allow the use of lawfare by [redacted] to silence me.

That’s hugely hypocritical, given the involvement of Slater as informant and witness in four private private prosecutions (one against me), plus his association in an incompetent court order trying to silence me here at Your NZ, plus his association with other threats of ‘lawfare’ against me from Dermot Nottingham and anonymous comments posted here and posts at Whale Oil.

I will continue to fight for truth and transparency.

That’s just laughable – more so because Slater may well believe his own bull. He has been far from transparent even in his post yesterday, and the follow up post was far from transparent.

We must not allow the truth to be silenced, and with the invaluable support of family, friends and readers I will continue to fight for justice to the bitter end.

Very funny. The fighter for truth tried to avoid the current defamation trial for six years.

And he also fought to silence ‘truth’ in the Dirty Politics saga – RNZ: Court showdown over Slater’s hacked email

Whale Oil blogger Cameron Slater has launched court injunction proceedings in an attempt to prevent three of New Zealand’s biggest media companies from publishing more of his hacked emails and Facebook conversations.

Mr Slater has served papers on APN New Zealand, Fairfax Media and MediaWorks to try to stop them quoting from emails and other communications allegedly taken from his accounts.

There are issues over the emails and online conversations being obtained illegally – but in his battle against defamation Slater himself used the contents of a hard drive containing data owned by Blomfield, allegedly obtained illegally, and at the very least I think used maliciously by Slater and others (Lauda Finem were given a copy of the contents).

The truth I don’t know whether or when Slater (and Nottingham and Spring et al) deliberately make things up and lie, and when they really believe the bull they spout.  Slater, like Nottingham, may really believe he is a fighter for truth and justice. If so that doesn’t mean what he says is accurate, or based on facts and reality, and without irony and hypocrisy.

I certainly think that their credibility is severely challenged.