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Airbrushing the VRWC

Written By: - Date published: 10:10 am, September 7th, 2014 - 111 comments
Categories: blogs, brand key, capitalism, class war, David Farrar, democracy under attack, election 2014, news, newspapers - Tags:

In today’s Sunday Star Times, there’s  a page (p. A11) devoted to aspects of Hager’s book Dirty Politics.  The centre piece is an article by Adam Dudding, based largely on a Matthew Hooton interview and the VRWC (Vast Right Wing Conspiracy). The VRWC is the name a group of right wing bloggers called themselves.


Hooton vs Team Key, & a couple of mea culpas

In the article Hooton stands by his criticism of John Key and his team, while doing a couple of mea culpas, talks about the origins of the VRWC, then ultimately, airbrushes the whole disgusting mess of dirty politics. It’s worth reading Selwyn Manning’s excellent article on his investigations into the Dirty Politcs fallout (and disarray) within National, to get an idea of Hooton’s possible motives.

Hooton says he is an alcoholic, and went on the wagon a couple of weeks ago.  He realised he was inclined to shoot off unwise txts and emails under the influence.

He was sober when he criticised the PM on the RadioLive show, and stands by his criticism of the PM and his team.  His criticisms are of the way Key’s office tried to block Hooton getting a contract with the Earthquake Recovery Authority.  Hooton is also critical of the way Key responded to the launch of Dirty Politics, and his handling of issues related to Collins.

He has described Key’s response as “the most ill-judged performance of his 6 years as Prime Minister”, Collins isn’t fit for office.  He said the Government deserves to lose this election.

He regrets having joined in re-Odgers wanting Hager’s address, but never actually believed Odgers’ contacts would organise a hit on him.

Airbrushing the VRWC

He says the right wing bloggers joined forces in 2008, when they wanted Winston Peters not to return to parliament, and they wanted to defeat Clark’s electoral finance bill. They called themselves the VRWC.  This was a network of bloggers with a well-defined core, and others on the loose margins.

dirty politics connections

At the centre was Kiwiblog (KB) and Whale Oil (WO). It also included bloggers Cactus Kate, Busted Blond (Tina Nixon), and Queen Bee (Charles Finny) of the Hive.  They acted in concert, but Hooton doesn’t see anything unusual or wrong about they.  They tag teamed:

I’ve heard this; I’m going to write that; you guys might want to follow it up.

Hooton calls this

normal political activism with the usual extremely foul language, and the ironic and sometimes deeply inappropriate comment, in they way that people talk when in private with friends, or in the pub.

The limited amount of Kiwiblog and Whale Oil that I’ve read, and some of the stuff quote in Hager’s book, includes some extremely misogynistic , homophobic and racist language and ideas.  It’s not something I would dismiss as lightly as Hooton does.

Dirty Politics, bloggers and journalists

The article then turns to the relationship between the right wing blogs and the mainstream media:

A blogger who was on the periphery of the VRWC says some mainstream journalists happily exploited the unregulated medium. They would feed information to a blogger because once it had been blogged they could then say it was in the “public domain” and report it themselves.

This is something many of us at The Standard were aware of because there was no similar conduit from left wing blogs, breaking stories in the mainstream media (MSM). Here is a major problem with the MSM that needs attending to.  Sources are a necessary part of good investigative journalism.  But when one political faction has a strong covert relationship with MSM journalists, it’s bound to result in a partisan skewing of reporting.

In retrospect, it seems to me that the relationships between authors here at The Standard and MSM journalists is more open: what you see in our posts is what you get.  There’s not any covert back channels.  We tend to strongly criticise many journalists in our posts.  As stated in last weekend”s Mediawatch on Radio New Zealand, journalists, try to treat sourced material objectively, but they also will be reluctant to criticise regular sources for fear of losing the source.

Added to this, there are the allegations in Hager’s book of journalists being threatened, intimidated and possibly blackmailed if they don’t support the views off the right wing smear machine.

Dudding’s article continues:

After Key came to power, the group of bloggers dissipated, with KB and WO remaining dominant.  Hooton says WO then took a darker turn.  The Hive guy wasn’t surprised by a lot of Hager’s book, but was surprised Slater took money to post. He knew Salter was mates with Collins.  Hooton says he suspected there was money being paid for posts, but as they are private blogs….. no problem.

On Friday, David Farrar told the Sunday Star Times he knew for a fact that there were still communications this week between Press Gallery journalists and Whale Oil about potential political stories.

Hooton is still friends with his blogging mates, and they have got closer since Dirty Politics. He reckons Odgers needs some support.

Hooton & Trotter op eds

Accompanying the Dudding article are two companion pieces: a column by Chris Trotter from the right; and a column by Hooton from the left.

Hooton’s column ultimately says, while Dirty Politics was a set back for Key, ultimately it hasn’t hurt his support, and it’s resulted in Key focusing more on policies.


Trotter’s article also is about the impact of Dirty Politics, or rather the lack of its impact on the polls.

Chris Trotter

He asks if 30 years of “devil-take-the-hind most capitalism has had a corrosive effect on voters, especially left wing male voters.  This kind of capitalism focusing on winning above all, and on selfishness as promoted by reality TV.  he asks if such values have resulted in people being accepting of dirty politics.

Is that why Labour polls so poorly among blokes? Because good Kiwi jokers no longer do compassion?


Because, if that’s the sort of people we’ve become, then sadly, that’s what this election is about.

Vote Left

Dirty Politics has raised very important issues that should be front and centre of the election. One of them is the need for a strong, politically independent,  public service media (on and offline).

Keep calm vote left

Update: Comment from Bill:

If a blogger or bloggers can use their own networks, built up over years, to exert influence over the public narrative, I don’t really have a problem with it.

But when the government of the day is using the bloggers who are a part of their (government) network to control the narrative (ie, dish dirt and discredit), then it’s a completely different kettle of fish. And that’s what’s been happening.

Odd then, that there is neither mention of government involvement (apparently) in the SST… nor in this post. That’s the ‘airbrushing’ right there, courtesy of simple omission.

 Update: (8 Sept 2014)

For the record the Sunday Times article says this:

After the 2008 election the VRWC, slowly disestablished.

This is likely to be Matthew Hooton’s view.  The article refers to original members of the VRWC dropping out.  However, though the personnel changed somewhat, VRWC is a fitting term for the way the black ops attack machine developed: including Slater and the Whale Oil blog, Kiwiblog and David Farrar, and their associates within the National Party and government.

111 comments on “Airbrushing the VRWC ”

  1. Bill 1

    If a blogger or bloggers can use their own networks, built up over years, to exert influence over the public narrative, I don’t really have a problem with it.

    But when the government of the day is using the bloggers who are a part of their (government) network to control the narrative (ie, dish dirt and discredit), then it’s a completely different kettle of fish. And that’s what’s been happening.

    Odd then, that there is neither mention of government involvement (apparently) in the SST… nor in this post. That’s the ‘airbrushing’ right there, courtesy of simple omission.

    • karol 1.1

      very good point, Bill.

      Will update the post re this point. It was quite a lengthy process creating the post, when I had to type out quotes, etc. And the post is already pretty long.

      Edit: While I was working on my post, it was in my mind that Hooton had attacked Key for his response to Dirty Politics. But he didn’t attack him for Key’s, or Key’s office’s, involvement in the VRWC smear machine. I then omitted to comment on it.

      • Bill 1.1.1

        Tending to think it’s all a bit like ‘Pravda’ of old USSR days, except, unlike in the USSR, there is no acknowledgement or recognition that the ‘news’ sources are basically just tools of/ for government propaganda.

        I mean (sticking to the comparison), it would be like a private msm in the Soviet Union, had one existed back in the day, sourcing from Pravda, echoing and amplifying the lines from Pravda and then imagining themselves to be worthy news outlets reporting on issues that mattered….except it’s far more pernicious than that, given the hidden/opaque nature of the sources in our case.

        • karol

          I find it particularly worrying that some MSM journalists are continuing to use Slater/WO as a source of stories.

          I think there are journalists continuing to work on the Dirty Politics source material, and to investigate further. But their reports on that will probably be somewhat buried among all the columns and reports cheerleading the Nats and Key, and the infotainment, celebrity culture, sensationalist stuff.

          I guess we can only keep on their case – on some specific issues : SIS OIAs, SFO, Ports of Auckland union issues, etc. But, especially, Jason Ede is the weak link for Key, and the one he is clearly protecting at all costs.

          • David H

            Where is Jason Ede? Thats the $64000 Question.

            • karol

              Exactly. Interesting to see this open message from Martyn Bradbury to the 3 MSM journalists who have received Rawshark emails: Gower, Nippert & Fisher. Posted 4 hours ago.

              Hey guys, just a quick word.
              If you aren’t going to publish the Ede/Slater emails, someone else will.

              • Bill

                question. Are there definitely Slater/Ede emails out ther? Other than the various ‘gmail’ ones he used when talking about the Labour Party computer? I’d have thought that Ede would communicate with Slater via an intermediary (Lusk?), to keep that ‘plausible deniability’ thing going. Maybe the Labour computer correspondence was a one off, fuck up?

                • karol

                  I don’t know. But many feel that Slater moved to shut down any publication of material still not published, because there was material linking Slater and the VRWC to Ede, and thus the PM’s office.

                  Slater also wanted to be given all the unpublished material. I thought that was because he was uncertain, but feared, that they contained such evidence.

                  If such material exists, I would think MSM journos would ask the alleged PM staffers & Key for a comment before publishing. So I suspect there will be some work to be done before publishing.

                  But it would kind of blunt any impact of the material. nevertheless, Ede dos look to me like Key’s weak link, and sooner or later, something will come out about his involvement. The fact he has gone to ground points to that.

                  • Hanswurst

                    If such material exists, I would think MSM journos would ask the alleged PM staffers & Key for a comment before publishing.

                    Hopefully journalists will request comment without revealing what material they have, and any opportunity for Key etc. to reply based on knowledge of what evidence might be used against them is supplied only after publication.

          • Bill

            I guess that a part of the problem is that the WO blog has come to have a certain prominence and even to be seen as a (fuck me dead) ‘reputable source’ due to Nat party shenanigans and…well, old habits die hard, while any admissions of stupidity or culpability on the part of msm players are prime candidates for ‘things_to_be_swept_under_the_carpet’.

    • unsol 1.2

      “But when the government of the day is using the bloggers who are a part of their (government) network to control the narrative (ie, dish dirt and discredit), then it’s a completely different kettle of fish. And that’s what’s been happening.”

      But where the media in general is concerned haven’t they always? It’s just that it used to be a nudge nudge wink over an ‘off the record’ lunch?

      And if this kind of social media had been as prevalent when Labour was in govt do you really think things would be any different?

      My skepticism in terms of how low politicians seem prepared to go tells me no!

      The only thing that is a low blow too far is Collins & her connection with Slater et al.

      The rest of them – 119 peas in a pod!

      • karol 1.2.1

        You are ignoring the central argument of Dirty Politics,a s outlined by this article on International Socialist Organisation of Aotearoa:

        It is about the use of social media for a two-track strategy, and to deter left wing people and independent voters from voting. This was the explicit aim of Simon Lusk, In the book he is quoted as saying:

        There are a few basic propositions with negative campaigning that are worth knowing about. It lowers turnout, favours right more than left as the right continue to turn out, and drives away the independents. Voting then becomes more partisan

        Also, a lot of the MO includes collaboration with business interests. This is something you are very unlikely to get from left wing people.

        The above linked article says:

        This same attack team also received money for what they called PR hits, where large corporations paid Slater to smear and target their opposition – including science lecturers and academia.
        If The Hollow Men was about how you win over people, convincing voters to agree with you against their best interests, Dirty Politics is about how negative politics disenfranchises voters by encouraging apathy and reinforcing right-wing control.

        • Tracey

          Plus 1 and snap.

          I suspect unsol hasnt read it.

        • Olwyn

          The opening of Hooton’s opinion piece: A year ago, David Shearer was cruising to victory with the Greens. Then the union bosses and far-Left activists anointed David Cunliffe. Labour plunged 10% in a year.

          Never mind the fact that Shearer seemed, to the likes of Hooton, open to breaking ranks with the unions that gave birth to Labour. Never mind the fact that, having been anointed by a right wing coterie, Shearer would never have been subject to the same levels of attack.

          You cannot persuade people with arguments like “Your type is not useful to our globalised economy, so I’m afraid you are going to have to retreat into a caravan park until a developer wants the land under it. That is, supposing you can find some way to pay the rent. Otherwise, see if you can find yourself a bridge.” You can only get away with this type of thing by manipulations, like installing a right-leaning leader into a left-leaning party, or by dissuading people who would naturally oppose such intentions from voting at all.

      • Tracey 1.2.2

        I believe you are wrong. If cameron slater, hooton and any of that team of filthy minded and vindictive sould have a shred of evidence that otgers are acting as they do, with the assistance of collins and mr keys office, they would have published it a long time ago.

        Hager has not been sued. For a reason.

        It is NOT 119 peas in a pod, you have simply falln for this groups well orchestrated campaign to get you to “look over there!”.

        • Hanswurst

          It’s a funny version of “look over there”, though, because anybody who actually does “look over there” will conclude quite quickly that there is nothing to see. Where are the MSM stories and opinion pieces stating, “We trawled through The Standard, The Daily Blog etc., and could not find any smear campaigns or character assassination in the style of Whaleoil, especially none that appeared to align with any particular party line or interests”.

          The fact is that Key isn’t saying “Look over there”. He’s saying “Shut your eyes, because observing can expose you to information, and information is a dangerous left-wing smear”.

  2. Ad 2

    It would be good to hear from anyone who has either:

    – has changed their vote away from National as a result of the revelations


    – has read the book and found it hasn’t made a difference to their party vote at all

    • mickysavage 2.1

      I have read it and it has not changed my party vote at all.

      Although I am in the early stage of developing tourettes …

      BTW good post Karol. In Europe if this sort of thing happened there would be arrests and people before the courts and commissions of inquiry …

    • unsol 2.2

      I have read it & have not changed my Nat vote. I was seriously considering it though had Collins remained in cabinet…but only in terms of abstaining as I am just not sure I could bring myself to vote left. I have deep seated economically conservative views. Social liberal though – would have abstained if the Nats had voted against ME. These things alway put people like me in super tricky situations as I am often pulled both ways.

      That said my dislike of our welfare system, especially WFF has made me consider voting Green to try & ensure the left gets in so this country goes to the dogs once & for all & people will finally understand that despite spending more on welfare than ever before, our children are worse off, that maybe education alongside tough accountability, is needed instead of more money…..a bit of reverse psychology if you will!


      • Tracey 2.2.1

        Given your comment above, may i suggest you read it again. I think you may have missed some important nuances

      • KJT 2.2.2

        You could, of course migrate to one of your favourite, no welfare low tax countries, to live in a cardboard box on the street.
        Which would have been the fate of someone with your level of comprehension, without our welfare system

  3. Sable 3

    Yes the MSM in this country are owned by and represent right wing political interests. I can not understand why anyone would read their rubbish….

  4. kenny 4

    Do you trust John Key?

    I don’t.

    Do you trust National?

    I don’t.

    • unsol 4.1

      Do I trust John Key as a politician – no, I do not trust any politician as they will lie to get what they want.

      Do I trust John Key & the Nats are the best party – especially now Collins has gone- to take this country into the next 3 years of growth & well-being?


      The 5th Labour government proved that Labour polices are the quickest route to economic & social disaster; Helen said in 1999 when NZ was 6th worst for child abuse that she would eliminate it. By the time she left in 2008 we were the 3rd worst in the OECD. Labour policies resulted in a culture of entitlement where children were treated as mere meal tickets & often worse than the family dog.

      So for every bit of frustration & anger you might feel towards the Nats I am certain I feel double towards the left wing parties.

      We all want the same things, but we just have different convictions on which policies are the best way to achieve them; convictions that are subjective.

      • Tracey 4.1.1

        And different levels of behaviour we will endorse to get it. If you have children did you teach them, as part of parental tough accountability that as long as you enjoyed the benefit of their behaviour, anything goes?

      • karol 4.1.2

        The 5th Labour government proved that Labour polices are the quickest route to economic & social disaster; Helen said in 1999 when NZ was 6th worst for child abuse that she would eliminate it. By the time she left in 2008 we were the 3rd worst in the OECD.

        So, some success then?

        Labour policies resulted in a culture of entitlement where children were treated as mere meal tickets & often worse than the family dog.

        Citations needed.

        The Clark government came under intense pressure not to continue with their original “closing the gaps” plan – this was from vested corporate interests, supported by the MSM.

        • phillip ure

          “..The Clark government came under intense pressure not to continue with their original “closing the gaps” plan – this was from vested corporate interests, supported by the MSM..”

          so is that why she/a labour govt. just ignored the poorest..for nine long years..?

          ..and do you have a ‘citation’ for that..?

          • KJT

            Weren’t you around during the “winter of discontent”, Phillip.

            When big money held the “country to ransom” to force changes in Labour’s policies. Making the Cooks and Stewards and boilermakers, look like the good guys, in comparison.

          • karol

            No one citation. But I noticed this as it was happening. One example was how quickly after the 199 election, Clark’s government pulled back from their “closing the gaps” for Maori. This came after attacks on it in the MSM.

            See for instance, this government statement on Closing the Gaps in June 2000.

            Then this NZ Herald editorial putting the pressure on re- “race based” funding, in October 2000.

            This 2008 op ed from Chris Trotter outlines some of the conflicting pressures Clark came under.

            Some other issues where Clark was under pressure: following Brash’s Orewa speech and subsequently the Foreshore & Seabed Act; I noticed after the invasion of Iraq, Clark kept some distance from the US government’s militarism. However, I also noticed, that Clark or her ministers came under pressure from the US government with each international meet, where NZ international trade was used as leverage to keep NZ’s support.

            Lots of those sorts of egs.

            Ultimately, lark had a strongly managerialist approach to leadership, and she tended to be more risk averse as her PM-ship went on. But I have not doubt that there were intense pressure from the right of politics, and, ultimately, vested interests, for her to not do anything too left wing.

            • phillip ure

              i believe you..

              ..i am just contemptuous of how lacking in spine clark/that labour govt was..

              ..especially as her/their neglect so well prepared the ground for what came after/later…

              • The Al1en

                Another anti Clark/labour spurt, so that’s ‘House’ for those playing pu bingo, alcoholic poisoning for the drinking gamers. 🙄

              • Hanswurst

                I don’t respect Clark as a public figure because of her unwavering principles. I respect Sue Bradford for those. On the flip-side, I would put Clark’s actual, realised achievement in government, on the back campaigning over many years and eventually winning power on the basis of raising taxes to increase social spending, tighten up labour legislation, increase the public service and NZ-oriented component of broadcasting and raise the profile of culture/the arts – none of which was in itself an enormous populist winner. I accept that the Shipley government was in decline, but I do not accept that it was a given that they would lose, or that Labour took the easiest route to victory.

                I respect Clark for introducing WFF and taking interest off student loans. I respect her for giving the finger to the religious conservative element of United Future after the 2002 election, when the easy route would have been to pander to them and take a “sensibly” (vomit) centrist path to the 2005 election. I respect her for having held that course to win the 2005 election, despite the low-hanging fruit seized on by the Right.

                By the same token, of course, she was responsible for passing the foreshore and seabed legislation and for scrapping of closing the gaps….

                If I were to judge Clark solely on the standards of left-wing principle to which Sue Bradford can hold herself with good conscience, I should have to find Clark seriously wanting. However, these aren’t the only standards, and I feel it has to be questioned how much oxygen and legitimacy activists like Bradford would have received over the last twenty years if it were not for the more mainstream achievements of Clark. I’m all for principle, but the sort of simplistic criticism you provide is more what I would expect from the Right: brash and bold, yet curiously bland und undifferentiated.

                • what was ‘ bland und undifferentiated’ about the lives of those ignored poor..?

                  ..where were/are the subtleties there..?..that i am missing..

                  • Hanswurst

                    what was ‘ bland und undifferentiated’ about the lives of those ignored poor..?

                    I don’t know what sorts of lives they led and I didn’t refer to that.

                    What definitely is bland and undifferentiated is your criticism, as I said. You are reducing a discussion of human rights and social responsibility, fiscal policy, public attitudes and media presentation to “Clark=bad”. I appreciate that that is entirely in keeping with a style of argumentation that involves simple statements parenthesised by pairs of dots, and allows for no linkage or relativisation of ideas. Unfortunately (and ironically), that very simplicity in thought and expression seems to make it impossible for you to avoid obfuscation in this case, hence your falsely equating the policies of the fifth Labour government with the plight of the poor. It’s not really worth debating it with you when your very style of argumentation makes debate impossible.

                    • “..and allows for no linkage or relativisation of ideas. .”

                      @ whoar i have built a hand-picked searchengine approaching 100,00 entries/links..

                      ..i have more ‘linkage or relativisation of ideas’ than you can poke a stick at..

                      (and this jaw-dropper..)

                      “..falsely equating the policies of the fifth Labour government with the plight of the poor.”

                      please explain how the plight of the poor is not down to the policies..(or lack of them..)..of the clark labour govt..?

                      ..how the fuck is that ‘falsely equating’..?

                      ..it couldn’t be a clearer example of cause = effect..

      • Tom Jackson 4.1.3

        Yes, because the Clark government caused both economic and social disaster, right?

        How can you say that with a straight face?

      • Macro 4.1.4

        Do I trust John Key & the Nats are the best party – especially now Collins has gone- to take this country into the next 3 years of growth & well-being?

        Well you really are a fool then aren’t you. 🙁

    • indiana 4.2

      Shouldn’t the question be who do you trust more? A coalition of the left or a steadier right, given their coalition partners have little impact on general governance. Yes, this may seem like we are voting for the lesser of two evils, however given the ‘Reds’ spending promises and the ‘Greens’ spending promises – both of whom have not said what they would yield post election. Perhaps people are really looking at who may be better to manage the budget?

      • karol 4.2.1

        That’s just a managerialist approach to politics, that has been part of the right wing discourse for too long.

        It’s about the kind of society we want. Finances are then organised to serve that.

        The right just love to narrow it down to a business-style focus. Ultimately that just serves powerful and wealthy vested interests.

        • Tracey

          I think indiana is a parody. Certainly attends pantomines and joins the cry of

          “no he’s not!”

        • indiana

          Do you honestly believe that people vote with the intention of the society they want or is that an aspiration of yours? IMHO I think that people vote only on one or two policies that will directly affect them. For example free student loans or increased welfare…or god forbid tax cuts…those votes certainly are not for a “better society”.

          • karol

            The MSM and the Right in the last few years have focused on promoting selfishness with their individualism and consumer driven mantras.

            However, when people do care about the kind of society they love in. Partly depends on how close they are to the daily degradation of life for the least well off.

            Also, as Simon Lusk outlines as quoted in Dirty Politics, the politics of deception of the Hollow Men, is all about using dirty politics to put those likely to favour the left off voting – ie the very people who do care about a better society.

          • Tracey

            I vote based on the kind of future country i want for others children. I dont vote on one or two policies that benefit me.

      • KJT 4.2.2

        Compared to National who have borrowed 80 billion,and counting, for their election bribes for the already wealthy.
        With nothing to show for it apart from a dairy industry, which is soon to hit the rocks of overproduction and over-borrowing..

        • phillip ure

          not to mention the impending arrival of the much cheaper/doesn’t need chilling/tasting same as milk ..mufree..

          ..dairy is a sunset-industry..

          ..may seem difficult to believe..right here and now..

          ..but time is not on its’ side..

          ..it’s not ‘if?’..it’s ‘when’..


          • KJT

            I think that would take a long time to have any effect, if ever.

            Still leaves us with the own goal, of overproduction from the worlds largest milk products exporter, us!
            And the other cheaper suppliers, mostly because they have lower borrowing costs (From their own Governments money printing), who are now entering the market.
            Combined with farm borrowing at levels which require continued prices around $6 a kilo of milk fats to be fiscally sustainable.

            An inevitable consequence of our reliance on speculation in existing assets and the boom and bust production of a very few commodities.

            • phillip ure

              early 2016 the rollout is planned for..

              ..and it will be much much cheaper than milk..

              ..(+ minimal environmental-footprint…’green’ milk.).

              ..add that to the global-market-glut forecast for the next five yrs..

              ..and you have a recipie for disaster for the nz dairy-industry..

      • seeker 4.2.3

        HI Indiana@2.40pm 4.2
        “Shouldn’t the question be who do you trust more?

        John Key appears to lie naturally. One had just as well not listen to him as nothing he says can be trusted .
        If I think I am being suckered into his oh so finely honed and practised ‘plausible charm and sincerity’ act once more I just remember this video clip of John Key lying in action on being asked about who appointed Fletcher to the GCSB…………watch, no emails needed just your eyes and ears – and a brain so you can process and believe the evidence for yourself……


        Unfortunately the leaked emails haven’t ‘king hit’ key himself yet so #cultkey sails on thanks to his ‘finely honed and practised plausible charm and sincerity act’.

        Have posted below too, by mistake. Too tired to correct it all now,but at least the clip gets extra airing.

  5. Chooky 5

    +100 karol….good to see you linking to the excellent articles on the Daily Blog!…particularly this one by Selwyn Manning


    ….all in the interests of democracy and sharing knowledge!

    • karol 5.1

      I look at stuff from various sources, and reference some of the ones that provide useful information or analysis.

      Why do you spend so much time promoting The Daily Blog? Are you their PR person?

      • Chooky 5.1.1

        …no i am not a paid or otherwise PR person for the Daily Blog….I just happen to find what they say is rather stimulating and interesting ( generally)…the Left should be reinforcing each other and sharing imo

        i dont always agree with the Daily Blog but they do have very esteemed commentators eg…Prof Jane Kelsey

        …the Left should be reinforcing each other and sharing information and opinions imo ( not competing)

        • Macro

          totally agree.

          karol I must say I’m finding the standard very repetitive lately – many posts here merely repeat much which has been said in other posts. Not that there is not a need for discussion on these matters – but there is a fixation on key and his evilness – and we need to be looking far wider.

          • karol

            Macro, each blog author tends to have their particular interests. If you look at my posts over time, one of my interests is in the role of media in politics.

            I have long been arguing for the need for a strong new public service media. For me, Dirty Politics shows clearly why we need such a non-commercial, public service media.

            The post above focuses more on that, and the role of bloggers, and journalist in our current MSM, than anything specifically about John Key.

          • seeker

            macro try comment 4.2.3. or 15

        • karol

          I’m with you on sharing and not being competitive. That’s why I look and a range of sources, and am not particularly into favouring any particular one.

  6. Kat 6

    RW Bloggers AND Herald both at it. Read Audrey Youngs desperate and pathetic piece today on Labours candidate, Steve Gibson’s Last Last chance because he dared to call National “jerks” “shylocks” and a “bunch of dicks”.

    Wow! this is scintillating cutting edge commentary from Young!.

    Young reports that the Labour election campaign is in a “mess” and referring to the Dirty Politics revelations, Gibson reportedly said he was concerned about “degradation of the public’s confidence in the democratic process by Judith Collins, Cameron Slater, Jason Ede and other rotten Shylocks.”

    Hooton is just protecting his commercial interests. He knows that if Key fails this election Labour will be focused on being the govt and hopefully the dirty politics saga will fade away. If Key should be able to form a govt then the heat will really come on from a very fired up opposition who have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

  7. Tautoko Viper 7

    More wilful ignorance.
    “But Ms Rich has denied she has been involved in any campaign to undermine public health, and has refused to resign from the agency.

    And the agency’s chairperson, Lee Mathias, has now reaffirmed her faith in Ms Rich.

    Dr Mathias said she had not read the letter, but had no doubt about Ms Rich’s integrity. She described Ms Rich as an active supporter of the agency.” http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/political/253950/health-agency-won't-probe-rich

    A further search on Lee Mathias turns up the following information in a Herald article by Isaac Davidson.

    “Nats accused of health agency cronyism
    “The agency, which would produce promotions on nutrition, injury and disease prevention, was chaired by Dr Lee Mathias, a former nurse and deputy chair of the Auckland District Health Board. Dr Mathias was also electoral chair for National MP Sam Lotu-Iiga.

    Another board member, insurance broker Jamie Simpson, was electoral chair for Cabinet Minister Gerry Brownlee.”

  8. karol 8

    In comparison with the MSM headlining polls, it’s interesting to look at the results of a phone poll done by some Wairarapa students.

    The focus is on the electorate vote. But the main finding is that there’s a huge undecided vote, at least partly due to Dirty Politics.

    Almost one third of Wairarapa voters don’t know who they will vote for according to a phone poll this week.

    Nicky Hager’s book Dirty Politics is having an impact because many of those interviewed said trust was the main reason for their indecision.

    The Wairarapa Times Age poll conducted by Whitireia Journalism students found 29% of the 417 voters interviewed are undecided about who to give their electorate candidate vote to.
    The results show the strongest support for National, with 34% favoring candidate Alastair Scott, and 39% giving the current government their party vote.

    However this is well down on the 49% electorate vote won by former National MP John Hayes in 2011, and on National’s 47% party vote

    The article also provides some quotes of the reasons people gave for their voting choices or indecision.

    No wonder then, that the NAts’ cheerleaders are busy trying to talk down Dirty Politics, and talk up National.

    • Tracey 8.1

      The nastis know this from their polling, hence their emphasis on trying to say everyone is doing it and trying to discourage people from reading it.

      Remember when key said it was a conspiracy and lies? Seems he moved from that to “no one cares”. Two vastly different concepts.

    • RedBaronCV 8.2

      Well regardless of the outcome – good on the Wairarapa students. That’s a big challenge that they have just issued
      They have shown that polling doesn’t thave to be the exclusive preserve of paid to get the right answer perhaps? pollsters.

      Can’t see any reason whatsoever why polling can’t be carried out by organised voluntary groups that follow the rules for good polling. Crowd sourced polls so to speak?.

  9. blue leopard 9

    Hi Karol,

    What Chris Trotter article are you referring to?

    [Unsure whether you have linked to it and I am completely missing it or not!]

    • karol 9.1

      The Trotter article is on the same page of the hard copy of today’s Sunday Star Times, as the Dudding article. I have not yet been able to find either articles online.

      That’s why I summarised and quoted from the article at length – wanted to get something about it online.

      • blue leopard 9.1.1

        Ah thanks! I had mistakenly thought it was one of his previous online articles you were referring to.

  10. Chooky 10

    This is an issue of New Zealand’s democracy , sovereignty and integrity . (The ‘Vast Rght Wing Conspiracy’ boil must be lanced…no use dabbing around the edges with disinfectant)

    I like Selwyn Manning’s conclusion ( and I cant paraphrase it better than the way he puts it):

    ….”The Prime Minister risks undermining the public interest if he continues to refuse a Royal Commission of Inquiry.

    Perhaps even more concerning is a growing unease among our diplomatic corp that a Royal Commission of Inquiry is now necessary on National Interest grounds.

    The rationale goes that New Zealand must now be seen to actively repair a perception that its good governance principles have been damaged.

    New Zealand’s international reputation as an honest broker on the trade circuit is at risk. This is a vulnerability where opportunistic trading economies currently competing against this Nation (in produce, agriculture commodity markets) may be quick to exploit”.

    – See more at: http://thedailyblog.co.nz/2014/09/04/investigation-nationals-campaign-flying-blind-what-national-fears-most-and-where-it-is-most-vulnerable/#sthash.8eIuZnMW.dpuf

  11. disturbed 12

    Iprent/Karol, Great article thank you.

    Firstly I am not stretching the subject here in my post merely to be seen as using Godwin again to make a point stronger.

    No air brushing here.

    “there are the allegations in Hager’s book of journalists being threatened, intimidated and possibly blackmailed if they don’t support the views off the right wing smear machine.”

    WE are referring the above reference Karol mentioned in Nicky Hager’s book.

    We have long said that this Government is adopting Germany’s pre-war Goebbels NAZI controls covert intimidation practices over publishing any MSM against the Government of their day.

    This is as a historical record to demonstrate the dangers for our society as we go forward allowing this kind of alleged “threatened, intimidated and possibly blackmailed”
    practice allowed by this Government to continue.

    It so deeply disturbs us that no one out there in the press or any other medium is reminding the voter, of the road we are going down as the German experience did then in 1933.

    This should be the principal tenant in the election this week for all political parties to answer this question;

    “Will you condone the continued presence of alleged parliamentary staff involvement in an undercover operation that has threatened, intimidated and possibly blackmailed those if they don’t support the views off the right wing smear machine.”
    To do any less is to send us to history that Germany experienced, when freedom gave away to dictatorship of the worst kind.

    The price of Freedom is constant vigilance.

    [karol: you are Godwinning by using the most extreme case and claiming the current NZ government is exactly the same, when it clearly isn’t. You weaken your argument by doing that. You will make a better case by not Godwinning]

  12. ianmac 13

    i’ve been thinking. Ha.
    If there was just minor stuff about say Eade “they” would publish it as almost as by the way….
    If there was something very significant about say Eade, then “they” would pursue it very very carefully before risking publication. And yes that might mean giving those involved a chance to comment. (And give those involved a chance to organise the Spin Machine.)
    So I still have hope of something big still to come, though if there were big things, wouldn’t Nicky have been more explicit in the book? Oh well.

    • karol 13.1

      I agree. And Rawshark said a while back that was the end of his dumps of political material.

      I think, at this stage, it’s more important to do further investigations into Jason Ede’s role. Any emails would not be conclusive without corroborating evidence.

      There’s also now enough evidence of possible wrong doing to stimulate a range of further investigations.

      I know many people are looking for some immediate and conclusive dump of Rawshark material. I don’t think that’s going to happen. We need some on-going thorough and extensive investigations.

      • One Anonymous Bloke 13.1.1


        Thus far the most damaging political material has been released by Odgers. I have hopes for Ede but they’re only hopes.

    • yeshe 13.2

      Ede can only lead directly to Key, Do not pass go. Do not collect $200.

      It will be enormous and require to be legally sheated tight, like a reefed sail in a force 5 hurricane. And that will follow.

      I have to hope/trust this is what is taking time. The alternative for NZ and all of us is almost too bleak to contemplate.

      But Bomber has the material it would appear … or someone he knows who can release it regardless of apathy or mal-intent from MSM.

      In hope !

      • ianmac 13.2.1

        I think Bomber’s remark re having the material was not about his having it. But it was a prod to MSM that “you had better publish or those other competitors will beat you to it.” Prod prod.”

  13. Draco T Bastard 14

    Accompanying the Dudding article are two companion pieces: a column by Chris Trotter from the right; and a column by Hooton from the left.

    I think you got that bit a bit backwards 😈

  14. seeker 15

    HI Indiana@2.40pm 4.2
    “Shouldn’t the question be who do you trust more?

    John Key appears to lie naturally. One had just as well not listen to him as nothing he says can be trusted .
    If I think I am being suckered into his oh so finely honed and practised ‘plausible charm and sincerity’ act once more I just remember this video clip of John Key lying in action on being asked about who appointed Fletcher to the GCSB…………watch, no emails needed just your eyes and ears – and a brain so you can process and believe the evidence for yourself……


    Unfortunately the leaked emails haven’t ‘king hit’ key himself yet so #cultkey sails on thanks to his ‘finely honed and practised plausible charm and sincerity act’.

    Comment Deleted Permanently

  15. disturbed 16

    Here, here, Karol.

    This is for Indiana at 4.2 reference to; – Team Key
    ” A coalition of the left or a steadier right”

    Indiana – Remember when Key screwed the labour lead Government when he partnered the ruthless currency raider NY operator Alex Krieger to undermine our economy in 1987, remember?

    I will give you the facts so you are really honed in to how trusting this carpetbagger is.

    Oh sorry Indiana you couldn’t have known could you?

    You was burning tires in Indianapolis, as motor city Detroit was going down the gurgler as I past through in a greyhound bus watching it crumble from a deep recession and ………


    MARKETS: Shadow banking in the spotlight

    Giles Parkinson10 Nov 2008, 10:54 AM
    Financial Services
    Global Financial Crisis
    Financial Markets
    Global News

    John Key is living proof that not all heads of derivatives operations for large US investment banks end up in the dog house. Some get to run their own country.

    Key was elected prime minister of New Zealand last weekend after his National Party achieved a crushing victory over the incumbent Labour government of Helen Clark.

    The timing of his elevation, in the midst of a financial crisis, may be quite prophetic. After all, Key’s rise to prominence in foreign exchange circles came after he struck a rewarding relationship at Bankers Trust with Andy Krieger, a daring New York-based trader who launched a legendary raid against the NZ dollar in 1987.

    Krieger reportedly bet more than the country’s entire money supply against the currency, forcing it down sharply and taking massive profits in what is still described as one of the finest forex plays ever completed.

    Key’s role in this raid is not entirely clear. The timing of his arrival at BT suggests he might not have had a great deal to do with it, but he benefited from Krieger’s continuing interest in the currency, which helped Key lift BT to top of the local currency tables and attract interest from international investment banks.

    New Zealand’s new leader also knows a lot about job losses, having by his own admission earned the reputation of being the “smiling assassin” during his short stint at the Sydney offices of Merrill Lynch in 2001 when he reportedly helped fire some 500 staff.

    He had been through this process before, after Merrills incurred massive losses as a result of the Asian crisis. Key, then head of the bank’s forex operations in London, is credited by former colleagues for his ability to hold a demoralised team together, even while sacking, in his own words “dozens fewer than 100”, a comment that reveals an early talent for political spin.

  16. Ant 17

    Helen Kelly had an awesome zinger on twitter:

    “The only difference btwn Matthew Hooton & Jordan Williams is Matthew is old enough 2 b included in both Nicky Hager #dirtypolitics books.”

    • i know they both go to the same barber..

      one recommended by bill english..

      ..which brings me to the big question..

      ..why do all rightwingers..just as they all have had s.o.h. bye-passes at birth..

      ..why do they all have such crap haircuts..?

  17. felix 18

    Sharp fella that Hooton.

    All the rest of the rats went straight to ground or into panic, but Hoots immediately positioned himself to get the pr contracts for the coverup.

    • Tracey 18.1

      Plus 1

      Apparently spent days in the foetus position after hollow men but still didnt emerge as a better human…

  18. Matthew Hooton 19

    Thank you Karol for using a much nicer picture than the one the SST made me pose for!

    • has anyone told ‘hoots’ yet that he is up for a slew of awards..?

      ..i understand he has been shortlisted for the opportunist of the year award..

      ..and that the chiropractors professional body has him up for spine-stretching-u-turn of the year…

      ..and that a driving school has nominated him for this years’ reversing-at-high-speed award..

      ..and that a liquid soap dispensing company want both hooton and farrar to be joint winners of this years ‘hand-washing-award’…

      ..and the sgt schultz fan club want to give him their ‘i saw nothing!’-award..

      ..and i understand a pest-exterminator/’rat’-killing company are trying to work something up around ‘hoots’..

      • tricledrown 19.1.1

        Phillip you are describing a snake which is able to shed its skin and contort itself in any direction and consume large numbers of rats.
        And shed its skin like Matthew!

        • phillip ure

          and specsavers have a couple of special promotions going..

          one is:

          ‘one-eyed/blind-to-the-truth like matthew hooton..?..come to specsavers..!..”

          and they have a new model in ‘rose-coloured-glasses’..

          ..that they are calling ‘the hoots’..

    • karol 19.2

      Hi Matthew,

      Did you go to the SST with this story, or did they come to you and ask you for some comments?

      You talked of how the VRWC coordinated the stories they posted on. As you were in the loop, does this mean you also ghost wrote some posts, as did Odgers, for the Whale Oil Blog?

      Or does it mean you coordinated you commentaries in the MSM (RNZ, TV panels, etc) with what was being posted on WO & Kiwiblog?

      Why do you only criticise Key for his response to Dirty Politics, and not the role of the Key’s office/staff in participating in the carrying out of the dirty politics?

      • Matthew Hooton 19.2.1

        1. They approached me.
        2. When the VRWC was operating, I was blogging at policy.net.nz with Chris Trotter so there was no ghost writing going on.
        3. Probably, to the extent of saying “I’m going to say X, so you should listen in.”
        4. You haven’t been listening closely enough. e.g., http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/ninetonoon/audio/20146062/politics-with-matthew-hooton-and-mike-williams-18th-august

        • karol


          4. That was a while back – needed a refresher. Right.

          You do say it’s not credible that Key didn’t know about some of the things that went on – SIS, Tucker, etc.

          You point the finger at Eagleson rather than Ede. If Ede was so inconsequential, why has he gone to ground, and why did key seem stressed when trying to defend Ede a days or so after Dirty Politics was launched?

          You also said that Cunliffe would now be PM by end of year.

          • Chris

            Hooton pretends to answer your question at 2 with what looks like an attempt to obfuscate. Will be interesting whether he clarifies. If he doesn’t it’s likely he never intended to.

            • karol

              Matthew reckons the VRWC disbanded after the 2008 elections. Or at least that’s what the article in the Sunday Star Times said:

              After the 2008 election the VRWC, slowly disestablished.

              Going on Hager’s book, I’d say it continued, but maybe with a slightly different line up of people – Busted Blond, The Hive etc withdrawing. I have been calling the VRWC the continuing black ops after 2008, involving Slater/WO, KB/FPD, Ede, Lusk, etc.

              So there’s a difference in terminology there. I mentioned Odgers in the question, and she was ghost writing posts for WO long after 2008.

              Whatever, the question to Matthew should now be:

              Have you at anytime ghost written some posts, as did Odgers, for the Whale Oil Blog?

              • Chris

                Yes, that is the question. Wonder what the chances are of getting answer?

                • karol

                  I’ve added a note at the end of my post above, as to Hooton’s definition of VRWC. Actually, the reference to it in Dirty Politics, seems to relate to that 2008 period. However, I think it’s a fitting term for what the WO-KB-Nat smear machine became.

              • Chris

                Hooton back commenting on TS today but ignores your question. Guess the answer’s yes – but we all knew that.

        • Chris

          Your answer at 2 could be received as you having not ghost-written anything on Whaleoil during the time you were blogging at policy.net.nz.

          So, have you ever ghost-written or helped to write anything for Whaleoil? If so, which articles?

        • karol

          Interesting, speaking of policy.net.nz in 2008, this 2009 article doing some commentary on the influence of bloggers in the 2008 election.

          Airbrushing the role of the VRWC back then, and making some completely false allegations about who was writing for The Standard – claiming that The Standard was much more of a tool of the Labour government, than KB or WO were for the Nats.

          One of the country’s leading political columnists Matthew Hooton – who entered the blogosphere himself last election – argues this watchdog role may have influenced the outcome of the 2008 election.

          I think the blogosphere played a very important democratic role,” says Hooton.

          He points to the fact that Peters had spent much time over many years drinking with senior journalists and says this tended to protect him from scrutiny.

          “The blogosphere and Phil Kitchin at the Dominion sort of broke through that and forced the stories more into the open. If he had got to 5%, then Helen Clark would have remained as Prime Minister. But I wouldn’t want to say there was a direct causal relationship.”

          Hooton put his managing directorship at top corporate and public affairs firm Exceltium on hold for two weeks before the election so he could concentrate on blogging at Policy Net.

          New Zealand’s most popular blogger, David Farrar, of Kiwiblog, agrees right-wing blogs in particular created a “sense of crisis around Winston”, and says bloggers can be motivated to dig deeper, while journalists are under time constraints.

          Kiwiblog and fellow right blog Whale Oil were not prepared, for example, to take New Zealand First assurances about funding at face value.
          Many, including Matthew Hooton, believe some blog sites are used to float policy ideas.

          “Kites get flown by serious politicians through Kiwiblog and The Standard, and so in terms of predicting what the government or opposition might have to say, to some extent they are the wider signals.

          “There’s no doubt there are personal links, the question is whether there are financial links. David Farrar does do polling for the National Party, and all those people on The Standard tend to be deeply involved in the Labour Party. It’s not credible to say there are no links.”
          “Largely, the people at The Standard are employees of the Labour Party and the unions, and they seem to be command-and-control organisations and they don’t tend to criticise their own side. Kiwiblog at least does so sufficiently to create some veneer of objectivity,” laughs Hooton.

          • One Anonymous Bloke

            There’s a ratfucker in me kitchen what am I going to do?
            I’m going to fix that ratfucker.

            Nice one Karol 🙂

          • Chris

            Perhaps ipredict could run a stock on whether evidence will emerge that Hooton wrote for Whaleoil?

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