Tracy Watkins on smears

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.


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  • You can’t be sued for telling the truth Cameron. You have the best possible defence to any attempt by KDC to bully you with a defamation action.

    • peterwn

      To defend a defamation case you have to convince the court on the balance of probabilities that it is the truth. You may be able to ‘discover’ the plaintiff’s emails, etc but apart from that you are on your own. So you need to double check your info and ensure you have the means to verify it. Whale is aware of such implications – that is why he double checks and why he and Pete deal with potentially defamatory comments.

  • mick le prick

    Note: Krim dot Konn is saying to all the lame stream media hacks that love his every word that this Nazis smear is a National driven smear?

  • timemagazine

    Smears are the preferred tools of the left. They would not survive without smears because in the battle of ideas they would always lose, so they have to make it personal. If the left would be fully honest about their intentions, most people would run away from them, so smears is what they have left and of course the unquestionable help form the media. But it will be different with this election cycle, because the WO has become such a powerhouse. I am curios to see when the left will start their attack and smear campaign on Cam and his team.

    • peterwn

      WO smears are backed by evidence – unlike left wing smears such as Shane Jones claiming Judith Collins had purchased a flash house, Greens claiming that the Sallies did not tender for the problem gamblers contract, Labour claiming that Maurice Williamson was about to jump in bed with the Internet Party, Andy Little and Trevor Mallard claiming Judith Collin’s staff had leaked a email (or similar) and Winston claiming that MSD had purchased a bunch of Mercedes Benzes etc etc etc. They were all bulldust.

      Why did not Tracey Watkins reflect on that – because it would spoil a good story.

      • Gravedodger

        Hows that “sale” of the flash pub going Winny you old derilect hasbeen

      • johnbronkhorst

        So really neither are smears.
        One…WO, is the truth.
        the other …Lab/greens… lies.

    • OneTrack

      I thought they had already started?

  • Agent Balzac

    Shock Jock is a badge of honour. Keep it up Cam, without you KDC would still be mouthing his lies through the Gurnard. The most famous shock jock of course is Howard Stern and he doesn’t lie either. Why, when the truth is all powerful.

    • Lion_ess

      Love listening to Howard Stern – always makes me laugh..

  • johnbronkhorst

    The best political smear repellent!!!
    THE TRUTH, whether that truth would be good or bad (well maybe, being a Nazi sympathiser, would be an exception).
    Nobody has a spotless record and you can utilise this.
    “A life spent making mistakes is not only more honourable,
    but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.”
    George Bernard Shaw
    “A man who makes no mistakes, makes nothing”..(don’t remember who said this)
    That is labours credibility problem in nutshell……they keep trying to convince us they are perfect and make no mistakes. Only to find them to be incompetent, but also amplifies even the small mistakes that they make.
    EDIT: Missing word
    EDIT: see, even me

  • Gravedodger

    Orivida was in the freezer for six months until its release could be timed to be a maximum diversion for Key’s still pretty valuable visit to China.

    Tracy you are complicit in the socialist battle for the high ground and so far your losses match trench warfare c 1916 no wins, no ground gained and collateral damage considerable.

  • MarcWills

    Cameron is up there with the best…