Michael Bassett is one of the smartest men in New Zealand politics.
Reading the New Zealand Herald and watching Parliament this week, one could be forgiven for thinking that the 2014 election hadn’t yet taken place. Left-leaning editorial writers and opposition parliamentarians have been busy re-hashing stories that grabbed them during the election campaign as though the voters hadn’t yet passed judgment. It’s worth reminding these people; an election occurred on 20 September, and they lost. The people have spoken. Voters told them that they had weighed up Nicky Hager’s “Dirty Politics” amongst other things and decided his book was either irrelevant to the current state of things, or was a pile of crap. “Dirty Politics” is a corpse, and there’s little sense now trying to resurrect it.
Why would these journalists and lefties, too many of whom are one and the same, want to revive Hager? A few, I guess, want something to keep bashing National with. They are angry at the election outcome. I keep being surprised at how many people believed until the numbers went up that a left coalition was still on the cards. Others possibly believe in St Nicky, and admire his chutzpah in using stolen emails for pecuniary gain. That, they seem to think, is “investigative journalism” at its finest.
It wasn’t and it will eventually be revealed for the large criminal political conspiracy that it was. Then the media will have a choice to make, and watching them make that choice will be delicious.
There will be others again, many of them young or naïve in the extreme, who actually believe Hager’s story. They have so little understanding of political processes in New Zealand or anywhere else that they think there was something new and especially sordid about Jason Ede acting as a conduit to bloggers, passing information, and discussing tactics designed to put National in a good light. Some won’t know about the methods used by the Labour government while Helen Clark was in office 1999-2008, when press releases and exaggerated criticism of opponents were filtered to “The Standard”, Labour’s electronic broadsheet. Nor will they know about the priming done by cabinet minister Ruth Dyson each morning of her email tree with sleaze that the government wanted to be widely disseminated. The Prime Minister knew all about it. I found out about it: some of Dyson’s stuff was inadvertently sent to me! Some journalists won’t know that throughout her career Helen Clark had a list of journalists she’d ring to exchange gossip. Sometimes she would only hint, other times she’d tell the person on the other end of the phone about what she planned to do to some on her own side who had incurred her wrath. Occasionally she’d plant an idea that the journalist would be encouraged to follow up, hopefully with devastating consequences. A few people in today’s press gallery were involved and are currently keeping their heads down. If John Key rang Cameron Slater in any capacity, what’s the difference? The Herald’s editor might like to tell us?