Some Standardistas have pointed out various contradictions in Cameron Slater’s continual reworking of his Brown-Chuang story, in the comments below micky savage’s post, ‘Palino and Slater have to be joking‘.
In his interviews with journalists, Slater superficially attempts to present himself as a responsible journalist, just following a story. However, in the interview with Rachel Smalley on The Nation this morning, Slater lays out the real game as he sees it: it’s a dirty game, and that’s the game he’s playing.
The story come into the public arena via the Whale Oil blog, as a salacious one that largely focused on the fact that Len Brown had an extra marital affair. The story played up the intimate, attention-getting details, followed by calls by Slater for Brown to resign. But after Brown fronted on Campbell Live to do his mea culpa, the Slater story switched to issues of hotels, and a reference for a job at a council run Art Gallery.
If there is any reason for Brown to resign, it is here. The crucial issues are whether Brown is found to have had a conflict of interest or used rate payers’ money on the affair. This is what a political story should have focused on right from the beginning.
Now, following Chuang’s disaffection with Slater and Stephen Cook, we learned that Palino’s campaign team member, Luigi Wewege, had been pressuring Chuang to provide evidence of the affair, in order to undemocratically expel Brown from the mayoral office – allegedly through blackmail rather than by publishing the story in the first instance.
Today Slater responded to questions: questions raised about the allegations of Palino’s involvement in an extortionate smear campaign, and the disbelief that his father John Slater, Palino’s campaign manager, was not in on the attempted smear. As reported in the NZ Herald today, Slater responds thus:
“We were dealing with a story, and it wasn’t until Monday _ the day before the story broke – that we actually had all of the details of the affair.”
Asked if the Palino campaign had alerted him about the affair, Slater said it had not.
“No, I cannot confirm that because I received reports from many different places.”
Cameron Slater said he was approached by Ms Chuang’s acquaintance Luigi Wewege, who put him in touch with Ms Chuang.
Mr Wewege, who had been in a relationship with Ms Chuang, was a member of Mr Palino’s campaign team.
“No it’s not Palino’s campaign, it’s one person,” Slater said.
My bold. So Slater and Cook were just getting evidence for a story – kind of just like a real journalist. And yet, Cook and Slater seemed to have omitted some key parts of the story until they were dragged from them – like the fact that a member of Palino’s campaign team brought the story to him. This only later was exposed by Chuang. Surely any journalist worth their salt would have had questions about that, and aimed to include it in the initial story?
On The Nation today, after about 15 minutes 30 secs, Smalley puts to Slater that this was a plot “to discredit Len Brown”, and it was a “political plot”.
Slater: Of course it’s political. We’re not playing tiddly winks, Rachel. This is politics.
Smalley: Where does this leave Auckland politics now?
Slater: Well, Auckland politics is like where any politics is, in that it’s a dirty, disgusting, despicable game. And it involves dirty, disgusting despicable people at all levels. And to have this sort of high and mighty belief that New Zealand politics is clean, isn’t.
So there you have it. He not only explicitly places himself within the “game” but calls it by nature, a dirty, disgusting, despicable game. And, clearly he wasn’t just aiming to tell a story as it was brought to him, but he was aiming to give it a particular political slant – slanted to discredit Len Brown.
And some MSM journalists seem to take Slater seriously as a kind of “journalist”. According to Tracy Watkins today, this seems to be because his real name is known, unlike most bloggers. She claims:
In this case, the revelations were published by a blog whose author is fairly well known. In that respect Slater is unusual in the blogosphere; among the proliferation of blogs these days, most operate under a pseudonym.
In spite of the dubiousness of the point, she’s on shaky ground as regards NZ political blogs - see The Daily Blog, Public Address, and several authors on The Standard.
Anyway, she seems to be implying it’s merely Slater’s name that gives him credibility, and not for instance the evidence of his activities in the public arena, the contractions in his statements over time, and especially in his own terms, in the dirty, disgusting, despicable game of politics.