Matthew Hooton’s attack on Nicky Hager’s journalistic credentials on Nine to Noon yesterday (at 21:35) was straight out of the “Dirty Politics” playbook. Kathryn Ryan wasn’t impressed and neither was I. Coincidentally Hager spoke last week about his investigative journalism – you can judge for yourself who spoke the truth.
Hager’s book defines and describes Dirty Politics as the politics of covert personal attacks made because of a person’s political beliefs. Hooton features in the book, most notably as responding along with Cameron Slater to Cathy Odgers’ request for Hager’s address so her Chinese billionaire clients could target him. Really nasty stuff.
And we don’t need to be in any doubt about Hooton’s politics. He has defined them himself in Hager’s previous book “The Hollow Men.” He wanted his master Don Brash to be very clear that he was not a populist but “a right-wing academic neocon ultra.”
You can listen to Nicky Hager’s own definition of his work here in an address he gave last week to the Fabian Society in Wellington. Hager says investigative journalists dig out facts the powerful don’t want people to know. Their role is quite different from the spin doctor, whose job is to create perceptions to hide things the powerful don’t want the people to know.
Hooton’s parting shot was that if Nicky Hager was to be defined as a journalist he wanted to be introduced on Nine to Noon as the All Black captain. Fat chance.
I’ve got a better idea. Instead of introducing Hooton as a “proprietor of a public relations company and speaker from the right” Kathryn Ryan could use his own description – “a right-wing academic neocon.”
It would be closer to the truth.