Tracy muses about smears and gets right amongst it herself
Do smear campaigns work?
Short answer – of course.
If they didn’t, they would not be a time-honoured political tool.
But the trick is maintaining the appearance of keeping your hands clean. In 2008, when Labour was caught out trying to gather material to drop an “H-bomb” on John Key it backfired spectacularly. But that was in the days when smartphones were still new, and it was not so easy to plant an internet meme and see it spread like wildfire before it had been proved or disproved.
Would that story have played out differently in 2014?
When a senior adviser to Key was caught out earlier this year supplying photographs to shock-jock blogger Cameron Slater, it was confirmation that the major parties see blogs as an important outlet for stories they prefer to keep at arm’s length or don’t want their fingerprints on.
The fact that Jason Ede supplied Whaleoil with photos of rubbish from a press gallery party was less of a revelation than the fact that feeding the blogs is officially part of his job description. Key used to give a passable impression of someone who had just noticed a bad smell under his nose whenever he was questioned about National’s links to Slater. Not so now.
Key even admits to having a direct line to the blogger.
As do many other people. From all over the political spectrum.
Links between the Left-wing blog The Standard and Labour are just as scrutinised; the blog has not always been a friend to Labour, and was pivotal in destabilising David Shearer’s leadership. But the fact that a confidante of David Cunliffe’s is a chief contributor to The Standard aligns it much more closely to the current regime.
Note that I’m the named shock blogger and Greg Presland who is the Labour leader’s chief money and donation launderer and trustee of his secret trusts gets a passing mention without even using his name in the real world or his handle on The Standard.
Smears are facts. Facts just become smears when someome publishes them and they damage some cause.
[The 24 hour news cycle] is voracious and it draws its stories from an ever-increasing pool of sources whether that is social media or elsewhere.
By the time the 6 o’clock news comes round, it is likely the main political stories of the day have already been examined from every possible angle. That makes it unpredictable for politicians and a challenge both for managing scheduled and unscheduled events. A scheduled event is a policy launch that will be quickly overtaken unless it is big enough to cut through all the other noise that day. An unscheduled event is a scandal or gaffe that has the power to snowball through the day. Once such stories gain momentum, they are almost impossible to stop.
Let’s not forget that the media itself is in charge of what appears important. The Oravida visit was kept on life support for well over a week. Some very good stories were stillborn because the 4 major media organisations had all their favours called in by the Labour party.