Gavin Ellis on Whale Oil book: “a harrowing slaga” but enduring long form journalism

RNZ media commentator Gavin Ellis applauded what Margie Thomson’s book Whale Oil

Margie Thomson’s investigation into the Whale Oil blog suggests that books may be the most enduring type of long-form journalism.

Transcript (from 6:22)

Great cover on that book, it’s not a whale so much as a sort of a monster of the deep coming up from the bottom of the book.

I think it was Margie who said that a whale was inappropriate, too nice to depict Slater and the dirt he is infamous for.

I think the monster comes from Matt Blomfield’s famous wrestler grandfather Lofty, who created an octopus hold.

Whale Oil by Margie Thomson really is a harrowing tale about a man, a businessman called Matt Blomfield and his decade long fight to clear his name after it was besmirched in a pretty serial fashion by Cameron Slater on the Whale Oil blog.

The book itself, I thought Finlay Macdonald summed it up perfectly, let me just read you one sentence of what he said. he said:

“Many readers will need a shower after a session with this book, and and Margie Thomson is to be applauded for her willingness to go where only trolls and the spiritually misshapen could feel at home.”

And that’s really, this is a, when I say it’s an awful book, it’s a very very good book. What it said is really quite awful about the ability of social media to basically destroy the reputation of an innocent person, and she sets about disproving virtually everything that appeared on the Whale Oil blog.

Of course Matt Blomfield has won defamation cases against Cameron Slater over it, but it’s a harrowing slaga, saga, but the thing that impressed me most I think is that it shows, with books like this it shows that this sort of excellent very long form journalism, you know the book chronicles a saga over ten years.

It may be that the most enduring form of journalism that we have.

The work that we do as daily journalists is ephemeral, you know it’s here one day and gone the next. I used to hate people saying that today’s newspaper is tomorrow’s fish wrapper, but there’s an element of truth in that.

This sort of deep investigation, and of course she’s not alone, we have a number of other journalists who’ve written books about different subjects, Rebecca McPhee, absolutely, and I think that they do us a real service by having an enduring form of journalism.

Now of course books are not regarded as a news activity, which is a problem under the Privacy Act, which makes them vulnerable, more vulnerable than a daily journalist would be.

Whale Oil was carefully vetted by lawyer Stephen Price to avoid possible legal actions.

Even with proposed changes to the Privacy Act I don’t think that this form of journalism enjoys the same protection as news activities do.

However books have an advantage of time to check out their accuracy and reduce risks.

But nonetheless I really commend not only this book but the whole process of committing to books.

This sort of long form investigative journalism, it really is great reading but also the lessons in them remain for the future, and that’s something in daily journalism we’re in danger of losing, particularly with the avalanche of material that we have bombarding us every day that is so ephemeral and this sort of anchors it with a degree of permanence. let’s hope so anyway.

It’s true that newspapers are published and sold one day, and disappear off the newsagents’ shelves by the end of the day. Books remain for sale on bookshelves for weeks.

But publishing news online means that it does endure far more than it used to. It can be just a Google search away. Enduring news – and blog posts – provide a lot of readily available research material for books like Whale Oil.

The difference with well researched and written books like Whale Oil though is that they collate and filter and edit a vast amount of material – and there is a vast amount of material in the Matt Blomfield story.

One of the successes of Whale Oil is that Margie took a huge amount of information and made it interesting and readable, while putting on record an awful campaign of attack that took place over many years.

It was, as Ellis says, a harrowing Slater saga, or saga.

Dirty sleaze content continues at Whale Oil

Even though Cameron Slater’s name has been virtually erased from Whale Oil content, his dirty legacy continues with regular derogatory posts still appearing.

Yesterday’s Face of the Day was posted by SB (Juana Atkins, Slater’s wife). It was another use old photo dregded up from Clarke Gayford’s past. He has repeatedly been targeted, attacked and smeared at Whale Oil.

Matt Blomfield, who has more cause than anyone to feel bitter at dirty and derogatory content on Whale Oil, said in statement in the weekend:

What got me thinking, though, was a book review on Newsroom by Finlay Macdonald – not his words but the image at the top of the page: Cameron Slater knocked out in the first round of his boxing match with Jesse Rider. He looks broken.

It follows that my mind takes me to a place of sympathy for Slater. He has a wife and kids just like me; he has tried to succeed, just like me. I feel increasingly concerned at the tone of some of the comments about him that are appearing online. I know what it’s like first hand to be ridiculed online, to be bullied and it affects more than just the individual. It flows through to that person’s friends and family.

I agree with Blomfield. But is sympathy for Slater and his family deserved  when ridiculing and bullying the family of politicians continues unabated at Whale Oil? (I know Gayford continues to have a public profile, but that is no good reason to dredge up old photos and repeatedly post them).

And the Whale Oil ‘family’ is a willing part of this. Comments on the above post all from WO ‘mods’:

Nige (Nigel Fairweather):

This is advice is apparently funny?

He’s a sicko.

Sally:

Thanks, Clarke. You’ve just given WO another opportunity to show you displaying your lace underwear.
You really lack self awareness.

Buzz E Bee:

Yup! All gift wrapped and dressed in a tutu…oh wait…

I wonder if they can look their families in the eye, their parents, their children, and say they are proud of what they promote.

From Whale Oil Commenting and moderating rules:

The golden rule of commenting

Each comment should:

  • be on the topic of the post
  • add information, a point of view or a contribution of some substance and
  • be respectful and do no harm to others.

Keep your language clean and respectful

  • Don’t put other people down.

If you don’t abide by the commandments a moderator will delete your comments

When moderators break the rules and allow others to follow their example it makes a mockery of their standards.

Slater may have slid into the background, but his hypocritical and dirty legacy continues at Whale Oil, with SB/Atkins leading and feeding the dirty mob.

Sprung – damaging attack tactics of Marc Spring

Many years of attacks against Matt Blomfield have been detailed in the book Whale Oil launched last week. Most focus was on Cameron Slater, but it also shows how involved Marc Spring was in a sustained campaign against Blomfield.

Two days before a hearing in the defamation trial Blomfield versus Slater last October, Spring sent an email to Blomfield’s lawyer, Felix Geiringer:

Perhaps a thought: when it goes to trial, the reporters will be there all day, every day, as the scores of witnesses give evidence against your client, so your client will be able to read all about himself for weeks on end in the mainstream media. That should leave a great footprint for all to see for the rest of his days. That will end any chance of a job or company ever being successful for your client. Oh the notoreity!!!

That brazenness is typical of Spring. And his obsession with trying to destroy Blomfield’s life. The book details how the campaign against Blomfield included extensive efforts to destroy any businesses, business relationships and employment opportunities.

Obsessed with attack that Spring and Slater thought they could use the trial to continue their attacks on Blomfield. But they put so much of their focus on attack they missed the boat on defence.

The trial judge ruled that Slater had no defence. All the attacks and claims and accusations he and Spring had made against Blomfield were distortions, misinformation and lies.  The judge saw through their tactics, refused to allow them to attack, and threw out Slater’s hapless and hopeless defence.

In social media, especially when there is a huge power imbalance like what they had with Whale Oil, attack can work in lieu of a defence. But when it came to the crunch in court the attack tactics failed. As they should have. Slater initiated an appeal of the decision, but after spinning the courts along for a few more months he withdrew the appeal as his lawyers deserted him.

In the years before this, despite a court agreement not to attack Blomfield, despite a restraining order, Spring kept attacking Blomfield wherever he could find an outlet. The worst of these attacks were on the Lauda Finem website. Last year Dermot Nottingham was convicted of five counts of criminal harassment and two of breach of suppression (a representative tip of an attack iceberg) and was found to be the principal participant in Lauda Finem, which in court he maintained was outside new Zealand law.

A lot of the attacks on Blomfield there, via posts and comments, look to me like they have at least the input of Spring. Multiple identities support each other in comments – and this looks suspiciously like Spring’s style and tactics, and he has proven motives.

He tried similar here at Your NZ. See: The many identities of Marc Spring and The many identities of Marc Spring

THE TYRANT (Spring) 8 May 2015:

Its just days away until another Blomfield scam gets made public. The guy is a recidivist criminal with no thought for any of his actions, or the consequences he leaves for people. Someone close to me just got taken for a ride – post his bankruptcy he just continues on and on, telling lies, acting like a thug, bragging about being a gang associate, and just being a general piece of shit. How many of his lawyers have complaints against them???? i was told 2 from one firm have multiple issues they face from working for this scum bag – i am betting soon multiple people will face multiple charges. The guy i was introduced to seemed pretty straight up, and a “take no shit” person. If more like him stood up to scammers like Blomfield the place would be all the better for it. Luckily my mate has met up with this person and he is going to facilitate the story becoming public.

Now we know that Blomfield has been vindicated, and Spring is totally discredited. This is typical of him – he repeatedly accuses others of doing what he has himself been doing.

Shagger (Spring) 5 May 2015 referring to Lauda Finem:

Posts are long, informative, pull no punches, and link often with legal speak of a well versed lawyer, or knowledge of the local laws. Or in some cases our lack of law. They are neither left nor right, but in my view slightly left at times. They have also been HIGHLY critical of Cameron Slater at times and certainly seem to not share much he says – with the exception of the Blomfield issue. Blomfield has unwittingly become the man who has opened up the rules surrounding the blog space. His case of defamation against Slater is also doomed to failure. I would not be surprised if Blomfield is the whipping boy for Prentice and co as they are using him to get to Slater.

– “link often with legal speak of a well versed lawyer, or knowledge of the local laws” is laughable. A long line of failures in court show how poorly versed Nottingham is in law. An attempted diversion from involvement for Slater, he was criticised in some posts but he was also complicit at Lauda Finem.

THE TYRANT (Spring) 8 May 2015:

@shagger – funny you mention the Thompson / Torensen dicks. I read the “Pet Detective” post at Lauda Finem today – the picture showing the dad with that ape had me in fits of laughter and tears rolling down my face with the “Reverse Darwinism” line. Great humour to say the least and actually quite uncanny the resemblance

I found that often here Spring was responding to his own comments under different identities to try to make it appear there was support for his accusations.

THE TYRANT (Spring) in reply to Hustler (Spring) 8 May 2015:

he sure is well known as a scamming fraudster – just ask ANYONE who has done business with him. i see back in the day Slater was using Blomfields own emails as evidence – that being the case then if its your own emails it can only be what Slater wrote. Blomfield could always provide a different set if they existed or provide his side of the story – but alas i guess what Slater said was in fact 100% true so now Blomfield continues to further his lies to try and make it go away. does anyone know what happened to the guy who attacked Blomfield in his home? something tells me it was a set up and that the DNA on the mask worn was not actually meant to be there

Slater misused Blomfield’s emails, he cherry picked them, he misrepresented them, he embellished meanings to a ridiculous degree. There are a number of examples in the book. At trial the judge rejected them. All of them.

THE TYRANT (Spring) in reply to Shagger (Spring) 15 May 2015:

oh how great that would be! Blomfield could turn up and serve another baseless defamation tort and waste 3 more years going round in circles trying to clear his dogshit name. Oh wait he ain’t got the nads for that. I suppose Blomfield will be at [deleted] 10 year orgy. A wankfest of epic proportions! [deleted], Blomfield, [deleted] and all the dodgy gaggle of layers – [deleted], [deleted], [deleted], [deleted], [deleted] – what a gang! bang !

THE TYRANT (Spring) in reply to BUCK WIT (Spring) 23 May 2015:

Pretty sad state of affairs by the Parole Board and the NZ Police force. This guy needs Preventative Detention. When reading the report thats attached to that link even the writer seems to be having some difficulty in defining the subject as to who he might prey on next. Appears to not just be little kids.

THE TYRANT (Spring) in reply to THE GRIM RAPER (Spring) 23 May 2015:

Busy allowing the Court, Cops and Parole Board time to come up with a story to cover their arses for allowing what happened to happened. Heads need to roll.

There are many more like this. I think that anyone familiar with comments and posts at Lauda Finem will recognise this style and content, especially some of the latter posts that suggest someone with an altered or ill mind is involved.

These are more extreme examples, but I think that it’s Fair to suspect that Spring used these same multi-personality tactics at Whale Oil, Kiwiblog, and elsewhere – I believe there is evidence he was also active in the comments sections of news sites.

The book Whale Oil shows that the attacks on Blomfield over many years were defamatory, deplorable, false and often extreme. The obsession with ‘fucking over’, and the tactics Marc Spring used, were a major factor in causing Blomfield and his family (and others) significant hardship – and from what I have experienced and heard this is continuing, albeit with much more limited opportunities.

He has complained here about his own life being adversely affected. He has blamed me and others for what are self inflicted problems.

It’s not just those who he has targeted who have suffered – this dire situations Nottingham and Slater now find themselves are in part self inflicted, but Spring has contributed sign to their predicaments.

I hope Spring seeks and gets help before he does more damage.


See also: Statement from Matt Blomfield on ‘Whale Oil’ book

Statement from Matt Blomfield on ‘Whale Oil’ book

Statement from Matt Blomfield (posted on Facebook):


On Tuesday last week we had the launch for the book Whale Oil by Margie Thomson. It was an incredible and humbling experience. About three hundred people turned up. My wife and kids attended and afterwards they talked about what an amazing night they had with other friends and family.

This weekend with the dust starting to settle I looked back at the week that followed the launch and I felt uncomfortable. It was a busy week with media appearances and messages of support, and naturally there was a big focus on the details of my protracted battle against Cameron Slater. What got me thinking, though, was a book review on Newsroom by Finlay Macdonald – not his words but the image at the top of the page: Cameron Slater knocked out in the first round of his boxing match with Jesse Rider. He looks broken. I needed to beat Cameron in court in order to win back my reputation. It was never my intention to break the man.

Cameron Slater has had his struggles in life. He’s had business failures. He struggled with mental illness; he lost his home. More recently he has had health issues. It follows that my mind takes me to a place of sympathy for Slater. He has a wife and kids just like me; he has tried to succeed, just like me. I feel increasingly concerned at the tone of some of the comments about him that are appearing online. I know what it’s like first hand to be ridiculed online, to be bullied and it affects more than just the individual. It flows through to that person’s friends and family.
Slater is not well. His attacks against me are not the actions of a right thinking individual. He needs help.
I’m concerned that some of the coverage given to the publication of Margie’s book gives the impression this book is a tit-for-tat exercise. It’s not, and that’s clear to anyone reading it. Yes, it’s the story of my long struggle to rescue my reputation and get justice, but
it’s about much more than a fight between two individuals. It is about our changing world and a system that needs to change so that our children are protected. It introduces readers to some incredible individuals and shows that even during the hardest of times good people will stand up and be counted. It’s about never giving up, and that sometimes the decision to fight can come from a place of love, compassion and family. Finally, it’s about people as a whole and how we choose to live not only on the internet but as a society.

The people who have read the book have all had the same reaction; a feeling of surprise. It follows that those same people have expressed to me what an important book this is and how much it impacted them as individuals.

I am now going to focus on my family, my health, my education and hopefully move past this. My story has been told.

I hope that people will move past attacking what can be only be described as a damaged individual. Let’s put him where he belongs, in the footnote of history, and move on to talking about the important issues he only symbolizes.

 

Newsroom review: Whale Oil

Finlay Macdonald has a very good review of the Maggie Thomson written book on Matt Blomfield book, Whale Oil – Where only trolls and the spiritually misshapen go

Many readers will feel like a shower after a session with this book, and Thomson is to be applauded for her willingness to go where only trolls and the spiritually misshapen could feel at home. As she explains early on, her book was born from a footnote to Nicky Hager’s 2014 bestseller Dirty Politics, arguably the book that marked the beginning of the end for Slater by laying bare his methods and the scabrous demi-monde he inhabited.

Calling their vendetta “Operation Bumslide” (a lexicon of vulgar and puerile Slaterisms would make a short book in its own right), these detractors harnessed the then-popular Whale Oil machine to depict Blomfield as a fraudster, a thief, a liar, a pornographer and a lunatic. Strange and sinister things happened along the way, including a violent home invasion and assault, which was at the very least worthy of far greater scrutiny in the context of Blomfield’s other travails than the police gave it.

Being from the same publisher and with an admiring foreword by Hager, you could be forgiven for thinking Whale Oil might represent one dip too many into the same dank well of character assassination, paid hit jobs and vicious mockery of undeserving victims. It’s not. Rather, Thomson has constructed an elegant psychological study of both main protagonists, equally obsessional in their own ways, locked in a kind of death-embrace from which only one can emerge the winner, but which will leave neither unscathed.

The term Kafkaesque is over-used and mis-used, but Blomfield’s predicament surely meets the criteria. Defamed, denigrated and physically attacked, he was nevertheless incapable of defending himself through any normal channel. The police, the courts, the media, the bureaucracy all live down to Kafka’s vision of a system designed to serve only itself and its own absurd purpose. The more Blomfield struggles to extricate himself from this web of perfidy and stupidity, the more he appears fixated and vexatious to indifferent observers. The more he professes his sanity, the more insane he appears.

It really is a wonder that Blomfield didn’t go completely raving mad – or just give up, as so many of Slater’s targets did.

I think that many of Slater’s targets will be grateful that Blomfield had the determination and tenacity to see this through, as far as it has come at least – a successful defamation after over six years of delays and attempts at avoidance by Slater, and of course the book detailing it all.

But this shouldn’t be the end of it. It would be worth following through with more holding to account. There are serious unanswered questions about inaction by the police on a number of occasions, including doing nothing about attack death treats that came very close to a murder being committed.

And accomplices of Slater should be nervous about being held to account for their actions too.

When truth finally does arrive, albeit on crutches and with a bandaged head, it’s almost an anticlimax. Having gamed the courts for years, delaying and prevaricating (for much of the time continuing to gleefully defame and otherwise harass Blomfield), Slater has nothing to offer; no proof whatsoever that anything he posted was true, fair or reasonable. So he loses. But the outcome is less than our aforementioned primitive instincts for story might demand. Slater is a bankrupted wretch, those who conspired with him are untouched by the verdict.

Some are untouched, like Warren Powell, who (the book claims) probably paid Slater at least in part for the protracted attacks on Blomfield, and also Amanda Easterbrook, who has kept a low profile.

Others have been affected to an extent. Dermot Nottingham is now bankrupt as a result of court costs incurred after multiple unsuccessful private prosecutions, some related to the Blomfield saga. He is also currently serving a home detention sentence which includes a ban on him using the internet, but remarkably Blomfield wasn’t included in the prosecution of him on five charges of criminal harassment.

Marc Spring has been at least as involved in abuse, false claims, defamation and harassment as Slater and so far has avoided court action against him – more due to police inaction than anything. He continues to attack Blomfield, although his major online options are now limited. He conducted sustained attacks against Blomfield in 2015-2016 when Blomfield had a restraining order against him, but the police decided not to take action.

But Spring has been affected. His credibility, his employment, his business affairs and his family have all been victims of his obsession with trying to destroy others, this has become more a self destruction.

What animates the likes of Slater and the haters he attracts remains a mystery, other than that they lack normal empathy and a sense of decency.

This whole affair is bad enough on it’s own, but there are very important wider issues.

That they are enabled by the failings in our systems and our souls is more the point, and this necessary but unpleasant book should be required reading for anyone interested in reforming the media-legal nexus for the realities of the attention economy. That will be too late for Matt Blomfield, but at least he’s finally out of the shit, while those he wrestled are still in it.

Blomfield’s long fight has finally managed to prove his attackers were malicious and almost totally wrong, and he himself has won back some of what was taken from him. The book has resulted in almost universal sympathy, admiration and respect – as far as I have seen the only exception being a small number of Slater apologists at Kiwiblog (I was accused of hate speech there yesterday for being critical of Slater and his accomplices).

Things should get better now for Blomfield. He will never get back everything that was taken from him, he and his family will bear the scars of vicious attacks online and physically,

The same can’t be said for the trolls and the spiritually misshapen, who still claim to be victims (as bullies do when someone stands up to them), have shown no remorse, and show no sign of recovering from their self inflicted miserable situations.

The many identities of Marc Spring

The launch this week of the book Whale Oil understandably put Cameron Slater and his dirty blogging at the centre of attention. But he has been in some cases paid and aided, abetted and used by a number of accomplices.

Someone who has been closely associated with Slater in his sustained attacks on Matt Blomfield is an ex-business associate of Blomfield’s, Marc Spring. If anything he has done more for longer than Slater.

One way Spring has kept attacks going against Blomfield (and others including myself) is his use of many identities (pseudonyms) in his online activities.

How many identities? That’s hard to quantify, but it’s many. my guess is well over a hundred identities, if not many more.

Spring has used multiple identities to make it appear as if there is wider support for his claims, his false and misleading information, and his mistruths or lies.

From Whale Oil (the book):

..,an increasing number of nasty and inflammatory statements about Matt started  appearing on news sites and blogs, under many different names, this giving the appearance of many people hating Matt and saying he was dangerous and damaging.

It was at this point Dunedin blogger Pete George inadvertently poked the bear. Noticing a number of nasty comments about matt on his blog he allowed Matt – with whom he had no previous contact – a right of reply.

As a result George found himself targeted on Twitter, tagged on @laudafinem and @marcspring…

Things got much worse for George, who found himself embroiled in a length and expensive legal action taken against him by Dermot Nottingham. Marc Spring also served documents on him, as well as suggesting to George that he could be ‘fucked over’ as someone else had been on Whale Oil.

Following a few clues, George ‘began’ to think about things that could be related’.

In September 2015 he wrote to Matt to let him know what he’d discovered: a list of 47 aliases, all emanating from digital addresses related to Marc Spring.

(Excerpts from the book)

That number of identities astonished me (but it isn’t that many names, it was also included many email address identifications). They had started in January 2015, so over about eight months.

He used more since then, especially over the next few months when there was a major attempt to disrupt and discredit Your NZ. He continues too use multiple pseudonyms here. How many in all? I haven’t counted. Fifty, sixty, seventy perhaps. And that’s just here.

One common technique is posting a comment under one pseudonym, and then replying under one or more other pseudonyms that agree with or add to the original comment, trying to give an appearance of wider support and agreement for his accusations and attacks.

I’ve also seen similar methods used at Lauda Finem. It’s quite possible most comments there are by Spring and associates trying to give the appearance of credibility and support for the outlandish posts there. I believe that Spring has also either written or at least contributed to posts at Lauda Finem. Some of the later ones sounded deranged.

Spring has close associations with Dermot Nottingham, who was found last year by a jury and a judge to have been the main person behind Lauda Finem (Slater also has links to that website).

I also believe that Spring has probably been using multiple identities at Whale Oil, and I believe at Kiwiblog – there was a comment there this week that sounded very Spring-like to me.

It is likely he has used other identities elsewhere in social media.

Spring was blatantly and openly active on Twitter, often associating with @laudafinem in harassment of me, but has now tried to scrub that. But he has mostly acted anonymously.

It is hard to know whether Spring operated all these identities himself, or whether he had help. I know that Nottingham also used multiple identities, but they were identifiably different.

This use and abuse of pseudonyms has not only been a means of attack, abuse, harassment and defamation, they have also at times been done in breach of court orders.

It’s hard to imagine how Spring managed to manage so many identities, but to an extent that gave him away – he often tried to disguise himself when establishing a new identity, but eventually revealed the same old style and tricks. It became a giveaway when he inevitably attacked Blomfield. The manner in which he does this has become very familiar.

In ways Spring’s deception has been quite sophisticated, either carefully planned or from a lot of experience. But he couldn’t keep disguising his motives, which were to attack Blomfield, and anyone he considered a threat to his campaign of harassment.

This multi-identity deception is an abuse of the use of pseudonyms, and it makes things more awkward for the many people who legitimately and reasonable use pseudonyms (or more to the point, a pseudonym).

It means one has to be sceptical of online claims and campaigns. With experience it becomes easier to spot the pseudonym abusers, but only if you’re looking for it.

The use of multiple pseudonyms or switched pseudonyms is largely under control here at Your NZ. It happens, but I usually know when it happens.

Whale Oil in particular cannot be trusted. While I think it’s likely Spring has used multiple identities there it also looks to me like it is a common practice there – not of ordinary users, but of blog management. A few years ago Pete Belt was sprung giving a favourable review to  book Slater had published using an alias. Slater and Spring have worked together so it is not a surprise that they might use the same sort of deceptions.

From my experience and observations Spring has to be the king of fake online identities. And he is still at it.

Hager’s whistle blowing versus Slater’s character assassinations

In other words, public good versus private vendetta. That’s something that seems to escape the hypocritical folk at Whale Oil.

Cameron Slater kept hypocritically complaining about being hacked, when he is guilty of the worst breach of privacy and publication of private data that I have seen in the protracted character assassination of Matthew Blomfield.

And SB keeps flying the dirty flag at Whale Oil. Yesterday in What Bridges should have done:

Nicky Hager worked hand in glove with the criminal hacker Rawshark to steal Whaleoil’s private and personal information and will forever be associated with criminal activity because of it.

Was the hit on the government really worth it? I don’t think that it was. He now looks as dirty as Hager and for what real benefit?

As far as I know that is an unsubstantiated claim, and I think it is false. I haven’t seen any evidence that Hager had anything to do with stealing Slater’s private and personal information. As I understand it, Rawshark hacked, so substantial material of public interest – Slater’s collusion with the Prime Minister’s office to attack political opponents, and him being paid to run character assassinations on variety of people, including political candidates (his dirty mercenary interference in candidate selection was alarming but seemingly largely allowed by National).

I have always had reservations about hacking for political purposes, but I haven’t seen any evidence that that was the motivation for Rawshark hacking Cameron Slater’s private information. As I understand it, the data was hacked, Rawshark saw some information of public interest (and it was), so handed some data over to Hager to expose it.

I think it was unfortunate that the Dirty Politics book was released just before an election campaign, so it didn’t get the sort of in depth attention it deserved. But at least it did clip Slater’s wings somewhat as he quickly became politically toxic.

Ignored so far this week at Whale Oil (which suggests heavy censorship, they can’t all be loyal sock puppets) is the launch of the book ‘Whale Oil’.

This details how Slater (helped extensively by Marc Spring) used Matthew Blomfield’s private data that like the Rawshark data may or may not have been obtained illegally to run an extensive campaign of character assassination over several months, and continued in the years afterwards ( I saw what I believe may have been Spring continuing this online this week).

This was an extremely nasty campaign, and was found by the Privacy Commissioner (alarmingly taking about 4 years) to have breached privacy. Slater only was fined for that.

Judges also ruled that the data was probably stolen and maliciously posted online and copied and distributed.

The 6-7 year defamation case Blomfield versus Slater ended up finding that later made things up (lied), he misrepresented, and he had no defence.

Spring (I believe) also kept posting false claims – for example he repeatedly claimed that Blomfield was delaying proceedings, when it was Slater who was doing all sorts of things to delay and avoid and stop the proceedings. And also promoted similar misinformation as Slater.

So…

While it is debatable about the legality of hacking Slater’s data, Hager’s Dirty Politics book was a largely accurate exposure of not just dirty politics but also dirty paid for character assassinations. I think the public good outweighed the breach of privacy.

In comparison Slater (and Spring and others) seriously breached privacy, and went on an extensive campaign cherry picking data and misrepresenting and distorting and lying in an effort to trash Blomfield’s private and business life. Judges ruled there was no public interest. It was dirty and despicable.

And it is just the worst of many examples of many character assassination attempts by Slater.

Now SB is playing a common trick of Slater et al – blaming others for what they are guilty of. “He now looks as dirty as Hager” is laughable. Hager is far from universally admired, but he is widely admired for the work he has done over the years. You can argue about some of his campaigns, but I don’t think you can argue about his decency and good intent.

I think that few would argue about the lack of decency in Slater’s many attacks on people. He brags about being a dirty nasty arsehole (not in those exact words). Whale Oil promotes it’s dirty MO ‘rules’.

Slater and Whale Oil are likely to be remembered for Dirty Politics, and now for the book Whale Oil far more than SB’s hypocrisy and unsubstantiated claims She is trying to shift that dirt elsewhere and play the victim, but I think that the stains at Whale run far too deep for that work.

How to buy ‘Whale Oil’ (the book)

The book ‘Whale Oil’ was launched on Tuesday night, and got significant news coverage yesterday. I think this is an important book, and I think that it is worth reading.

If you want to borrow the book from a library there could be a long wait – someone reported yesterday at The Standard: “I have just ordered a copy from Auckland Library.  21 of 21 holds on one copy.”

Whitcoulls have copies available in most stores – you can check out where on their website, and also order online.

It can also be ordered directly from the publisher potton & burton: (this is an easy and fast process, I ordered other books from them recently):

WHALE OIL

ONE MAN’S FIGHT TO SAVE HIS REPUTATION, THEN HIS LIFE
Margie Thomson
Availability: In Stock

In May 2012 Auckland businessman Matt Blomfield found himself the target of a vicious online attack, the work of Whale Oil blogger Cameron Slater. The attack came out of the blue, destroying Blomfield’s reputation and career, stealing his identity, turning him into a social outcast. Two years after the online attack began an armed gunman came to Blomfield’s house and tried to kill him. He only survived because the intruder’s shotgun misfired.

But Matt Blomfield decided to fight back. He spent seven years and many hundreds of thousands of dollars taking a defamation case against Slater, which he ultimately won, establishing that Slater’s vendetta was based entirely on lies.

This book is a remarkable piece of investigative writing, a story of courage and tenacity, which reminds us how important it is to stand up to bullies, and to be reassured that in the end they do not always win.

There is an interesting story around the book cover – Matt’s grandfather was famous New Zealand wrestler Lofty Blomfield:

He is credited for inventing “The Octopus Clamp”, an early version of the Scorpion Deathlock,

Disclosure: I assisted with a little bit of information for the book, but I have no financial interest in the book nor in sales of the book.

I’m promoting it here because I think it is an important book that has wider implications than the Matt Blomfield saga – it shows how easy and bad destructive blogging and online activity can be, and how poorly our laws and our policing practices allow us too deal with it.

Accusations of bullying for posting about Slater

The ‘Whale Oil’ book about the attacks on Matthew Blomfield by Cameron Slater and others over many years was all over the news yesterday – online, in newspapers, on TV and radio.

I posted bout it here, and also posted a comment about it at Kiwiblog.

David Garrett dumped on me in a number of comments, before eventually admitting:

PG: Thank you, I was unaware of all this…and for the record I wasn’t playing dumb; I had never heard of this Matt Blomfield before this morning (my participation in social media is strictly limited to this blog).

So he jumped on me without knowing anything about the topic, informed only by Kiwiblog. Good grief. This sort of attack the messenger stuff is common at Kiwiblog (and on blogs and social media generally).

Tony Stuart joined the messenger attack with this comment:

Pete – have you ever stopped to consider that your own long-running campaign against Slater is in itself a form of bullying?

Two wrongs don’t make a right.

My Slater/WO posts have sometimes been questioned here as well.

I have often considered what to post about Slater and how often to post about him. I don’t do them often, usually when there is something in the news or the courts related to him or Whale Oil.

I find it quite ironic that Tony has suggested I may be bullying Slater, by posting about something prominent in the news, about a book that details arguably the worse case of online bullying in New Zealand history.

So is it bullying to post and comment about bullying?

Perhaps it depends on what your definition of bullying is. It seems to be like the ‘hate speech’ argument doing the rounds. It is claimed that labelling something as hate speech is a way of trying to shut down free speech. If you hate the misuse of ‘hate speech is it hate speech to talk about it?

I not that Tony was only critical of me for talking about Slater’s bullying, His only comment on Slater was:

Am I defending Slater? No. He made his bed, and now has to lie in it.

He seems to want the covers pulled up over Slater’s bed.

This is despite the fact that Slater has attacked and bullied extensively over the past decade. He often bragged about being a bully.

Slater used to relentlessly post about targets of his bullying.

Whale Oil still repeatedly attacks and criticises politicians and journalists – they include attacks on journalists in their ‘dictionary’, and also groups of people like Muslims, lefties, media.

Is it bullying to post about bullies and bullying?

This isn’t the first time Tony has attacked me for posting about Slater at Kiwiblog. Is he bullying me? He certainly seems to be trying to get me to shut up about Slater.

Tony, Whale Oil continues to criticise and attack (some may call that bullying). While Slater no longer posts or comments under his own name his obvious and input is obvious.

He has bullied hundreds of people, many of them to a serious degree – Blomfield is probably the worst example, as detailed in the ‘Whale Oil’ book, but that’s debatable. Slater has deliberately tried to destroy political careers. I think he is a proven liar – the court ruling he had no defence in the Blomfield defamation case supports this.

There are unresolved issues. Slater appears to unremorseful and unrepentant, despite the damage he has done to people’s lives.

He filed for bankruptcy, but Whale Oil continues (it shifted sideways onto a new web address), presumably the Whale Oil revenue continues. Slater promoted the Whale Meat business as his enterprise – that has also been shifted sideways and continues to advertise in Whale Oil. These are ongoing issues.

Tony seems to think that mentioning things like this is bullying. Perhaps he should try telling that to Blomfield and his family. To Len Brown. To Bill English. To Simon Bridges. To Jacinda Ardern. To Golriz Ghahraman (actually Tony tells things to Ghaharam a bit but I presume he doesn’t see that as bullying).

Slater got away with a mass of massive bullying for years, in part because people like Tony supported him, and continue to support him indirectly by trying to shut down any criticism of Slater.

This is how bullies keep getting away with bullying. People aid and abet, they make excuses, they play diversion.

If Tony thinks it is bullying to point things like this out then so be it.

Media coverage of ‘Whale Oil’ the book

The Spinoff: The 10 most shocking moments in the blistering new book ‘Whale Oil’

The book, we can now reveal, is by Margie Thomson, and its title is spare and clear: Whale Oil. It tells the story of businessman Matt Blomfield’s long-running struggle against blogger Cameron Slater, who, of course, was at the centre of Nicky Hager’s Dirty Politics. The saga, told principally from the perspective of Matt Blomfield, covers the extensive legal battle between Blomfield and Slater, as well as examining the way our justice system works, and the way the media has shifted (and shifted again) to allow and then disavow someone like Slater. Blomfield believes that Slater’s attacks led to an attempt on his life at his home in the North Shore of Auckland.

It’s a page-turner – thoughtful and with remarkable attention to detail.

RNZ: New book looks at battle between Slater and Blomfield

Whale Oil is a remarkable piece of investigative writing by Margie Thomson, who has painstakingly researched and documented this unbelievable story.

“It is a chilling account of how inadequate our protection is in the face of a digital attack, and a depressing exposé of police indifference to a citizen’s dire predicament,” the book’s promotional material said.

The book’s foreword is written by Nicky Hager, who said it’s a story of right and wrong, standing up to bullies, and a sobering story of how few protections there are against online attacks.

NZ Herald – Revealed: Book exposes how Whaleoil blogger’s campaign spilled from internet into the real world and took a heavy toll

A new book has revealed how an extraordinary online campaign of harassment and humiliation spilled into the real world and alleges the long-running plan may have been linked to a brutal home invasion.

A conspiracy under the name “Operation Bumslide” saw the former business partner Warren Powell supply Slater and others with a decade of Blomfield’s personal and financial records which were then used in an attempt to destroy his reputation.

The blog posts were then backed up by complaints from “Operation Bumslide” members to a host of government enforcement agencies, leading to Blomfield being described as “one of New Zealand’s most investigated people”.

Eventually Blomfield was cleared of any wrongdoing and Slater lost a High Court defamation case and Human Rights Tribunal case in which one of his articles about Blomfield was described as nothing more than “character assassination”.

The Whaleoil book, by journalist Margie Thomson, is presented as a detailed, behind-the-scenes investigation into years of alleged bullying and threats against Blomfield, including claims that after he launched his seven-year defamation action his computer was hacked and Slater approached one of his daughters over social media.

Along with the personal and financial cost, the book speculates a 2014 attack at their Greenhithe home might be linked to “Operation Bumslide” and the Whaleoil blog posts.

According to the book, Blomfield received odd and frightening text messages forecasting physical harm ahead of a home invasion by gang associate Ned Paraha, who was sent to prison for the armed assault.

The book is highly critical of police handling of complaints, which was conceded by a senior officer who carried out an internal investigation in the way they were handled.

It includes an appendix from barrister and media law specialist Steven Price in which he proposes the creation of a criminal offence for intentional harm caused by posting of online content.

Stuff: New book lifts lid on Whale Oil blogger Cameron Slater’s dirty tactics

It took nearly eight years, hundreds of thousands of dollars, and a few mental and physical scars, but Matthew Blomfield believes he may have finally harpooned the big one with the release of Whale Oil.

The book, written by Margie Thomson, tells the story of Blomfield’s lengthy defamation battle with and ultimate victory over Whale Oil blogger Slater and was released amid secrecy at a launch on Tuesday night.

It had gained notoriety even before its release, as Blomfield’s lawyer Felix Geiringer claimed a family was detained by NZ Customs while entering the country and questioned about the name of the book.

Geiringer said the family, who were carrying a copy of the manuscript, had been stopped at an undisclosed airport, and questioned for several hours, and Customs officers threatened ‘dire consequences’ if they didn’t inform the officers what the book was called.

Note in the NZH report “complaints from “Operation Bumslide” members to a host of government enforcement agencies” – may be just coincidental.

The book details the devastating effect that Slater’s smear campaign had on Blomfield’s life, and how he and his family had to go into hiding after an intruder in a Spiderman mask showed up at his Auckland home and tried to shoot at him while his wife and two young children were present.

The book can be ordered online, eg: https://www.whitcoulls.co.nz/product/whale-oil-6462218

But bookstores should have copies.