Chris Trotter gets it on Dirty Politics

Chris Trotter writes at Martyn Martin Bradbury’s hate speech blog about the failure of Dirty Politics:

There?s no disputing that Hager?s?Dirty Politics?reveals an unprecedented amount of information about what was going on behind the scenes of New Zealand politics in 2014. The wealth of material contained in Hager?s book could not, however, have been acquired outside of the thoroughly digitalised society we?ve become. Thousands of hacked e-mail communications to and from Cameron Slater?s?Whaleoil?blogsite had been passed on to Hager, revealing a host of startling connections between Slater, the Prime Minister?s Office, Justice Minister Judith Collins, numerous journalists, and a strange coterie of behind-the-scenes movers and shakers calling themselves ?The Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy?.

That similar exercises in political character assassination, media manipulation, and influence-peddling went on in the past is equally indisputable. It was only very rarely, however, that evidence of such dirty deeds ever came to light. The shrewd operators of the pre-digital era took care to leave no paper trails for pesky journalists to follow. Granted, telephone landlines could be tapped, but not, in the usual course of events, by the Left. Nor was there an Official Information Act to trouble wayward civil servants and Cabinet Ministers. Dirty politics was easier to get away with in those days ? and investigative journalism much harder!

The result, paradoxically, was that public trust and confidence in our political institutions was much higher in the past than it is today. What the journalistic eye could not see, the electorate didn?t grieve over.

What Trotter fails to say though is that the left wing were so out of ideas to counter my effectiveness, and that of the government that they hatched a plot to subvert our democracy by using criminals to obtain illegally information they had no right to.

Think about this…a journalist had his emails hacked and information taken, then used in a political hatchet job, and they have the temerity to claim I was the one playing “Dirty Politics”. It matters not to them that journalists also participated in the attack, against one of their own…had it been a newspaper’s journalist that had been attacked you may be sure we would have never heard about it.

Still Trotter does have the intellectual capacity to understand that the public were smarter than them.

Nicky Hager, Dita Di Boni and Fran O?Sullivan all spoke eloquently about the difficulties facing conscientious journalists in the digital era; about the proliferation of media platforms and the constant shrinkage of newsrooms everywhere. And John Campbell, just by being there, reminded the Ika audience of what can happen to a television current affairs show that strives too earnestly to reveal the composition of the Democratic Sausage.

What they didn?t discuss, however, was the one, incontrovertible, fact about the publication of?Dirty Politics.?Namely, that as a political purgative, it didn?t work. Unlike Richard Nixon, John Key was not forced to resign, and his political party was not voted out of office. In fact, a year (and a bit) after the book?s release, Key?s National Government remains as popular as it ever was. The bitter truth is that most New Zealanders reacted to?Dirty Politics?by moving?towards?? not?away?from?? the National incumbent. Outside the relatively small circle of New Zealanders who celebrated Nicky Hager?s investigative efforts on their behalf, most Kiwis responded to his attempt to show them what was happening behind the fa?ade of their democratic institutions with anger and resentment.

They liked the Democratic Sausages sizzling on John Key?s barbecue. They did not want to know how they were made. And they definitely didn?t want to be told what ? or who ? went into them.

It helps that Fran O’Sullivan was lying through her teeth at that ‘summit’. It will make it all the more pleasurable showing her what Dirty Politics is all about in reality.

The sanctimony of Laila Harre, Nicky Hager and Fran O’Sullivan was disgusting…John Campbell too. I can forgive Dita di Boni as she knows not what she speaks of. But the others…they will all keep, while Fran cooks in her own juices.

Meanwhile Trotter got it right. no one cared but them. If Nicky Hager had any integrity he’d go after the left wing players, but then again he’s never written a book about himself.


– The Daily Blog