Dirty Politics was in the public interest

Written By: - Date published: 12:11 pm, October 30th, 2015 - 46 comments
Categories: Dirty Politics, journalism, law - Tags: , , , ,

Today’s anonymous editorial in The Herald makes for interesting reading:

Dirty Politics passes public interest test

Blogger Cameron Slater and author Nicky Hager …

How I hate seeing these two compared in any way!

… have much in common, even beyond the emails one wrote and the other obtained, possibly illegally, now the Supreme Court has ruled computer files are property.

Both claim to be journalists, and both have found their work subject to the scrutiny of the High Court.

The difference being that Hager really is a journalist, one of the best we have.

Both have cited a clause of the Evidence Act as a shield to protect their sources. In both cases, the sources provided a tranche of emails on which the reporting was based.

Police have accepted Hager is a journalist. In Slater’s case, Justice Asher also found he was a journalist but focused on the work he produced.

He found a journalist’s protection of sources should “promote the free flow of information, a vital component of any democracy”, adding, “This factor would appear to have particular relevance where the facts and opinion that are the subject of the communications are of public interest and significance.” … There is no magic shield called journalism behind which journalists can hide their sources. The only shield available is that of justice, and a wider public interest, as highlighted by Justice Asher.

Slater’s was a defamation case. Hager’s is a criminal investigation. Justice Asher found Slater’s work – at least in relation to the case before the court – did not meet the test of public interest. Did Dirty Politics serve the “public interest”?

Putting aside political allegiances, the book did shine a light on aspects of the modern political world which had previously been in shadow. As a result, the public is better informed about the way our democracy operates. … since his book served a public interest, free speech should prevail.

The right conclusion in the end – Hager’s Dirty Politics served a genuine public interest, and should be legally protected as such.

46 comments on “Dirty Politics was in the public interest”

  1. Tracey 1

    self interest is enormously motivating. the herald can see that IT may be adversely affected if Haver is found to have been receiving stolen property… it reads like a concession made through gritted teeth hence it could, with a straight keyboard, compare slater and hager and find them similar.

    • dukeofurl 1.1

      And every other ‘tip off’ they get from others.

      Even say an email saying MBIE is spending heaps on donuts and a spa bath for CEO, that would be ‘property that belongs to others’, which they have illegally received.

      • Tracey 1.1.1

        I have been thinking about the implications for publishing Leaked documents if Hager is convisted of receiving stolen property?

        It would mean the police would have to look at a complaint of a document taken without permission… IF governments dont lay such a complaint could we assume it was a deliberate act by the owner of the document?

    • billmurray 1.2

      I agree , the pox on both of them.

  2. Anne 2

    It might have been “the right conclusion in the end” but my goodness what went before is open to much debate.

    The attempt to equate Slater with Hager was beyond belief! In a technical sense they were partly correct, but in reality there couldn’t be two people so different.

    One is internationally recognised as a top-notch author and investigative journalist. The other is a grubby little muckraker who has contributed nothing to the overall illumination of the populace.

    One is an intelligent and honest person whose intentions are honourable. The other is a lying, cheating bastard who has no moral compass whatsoever.

    • Tautoko Mangō Mata 2.1

      +100, Anne

    • Wainwright 2.2

      The Herald is desperate not to give Hager the mana of a journalist. That’s why they try to pretend he’s on the same level as Slater.

    • Tracey 2.3

      And whether you like Hager or not he doesn’t appear to be solely motivated by self interest, Slater appears almost entirely so motivated, based in part on the Dirty Politics revelations.

      Publishing something you didnt write on behalf of another but in your name, for example

    • North 2.4

      Anne……that is a seminal expression of the contrast between Hager and SlaterPorn. Thank you ! As a recently anointed pensioner applying the considerable wisdom implied by that status, it is not missed that one is a gentleman……the other an unsavoury thug.

      • Anne 2.4.1

        As a not quite so recently anointed pensioner, thank-you North for the compliment.

        I see the thug is now calling for the worshippers of Islam to be killed before (he claims) they kill us – the incitement of violence by those with a mob mentality such as his own. I recall a previous well known mob called “Rob’s Mob” which was the brain-child of his father, Slater Senior. However I don’t think they were exhorted to go around killing people.

    • billmurray 2.5

      You are wrong in your praise of Hager, he purposely helped John Key to get elected for his twenty pieces of silver.

  3. Northsider 3

    “…….the book did shine a light on aspects of the modern political world which had previously been in shadow.”
    The book was about how John Key and the National party operates: Herald trying to let the Nats off by saying it is a global phenomenon.

    • Tracey 3.1

      Imagine if the time, money and energy spent by National finding ways to get around the rules and avoid muck being linked to them was spent finding ways to enhance the lives of the most vulnerable of kiwis?

  4. ianmac 4

    “Political roundup: Libertarians against dirty politics -Bryce Edwards.”
    Not sure if this has already been noted. Bryce Edwards has put up a column:
    Activists of the left and right are united against what they see as dirty politics from the New Zealand Police and Westpac bank. The Police and Westpac are accused of breaching Nicky Hager’s privacy, in what many believe to be a concerted state campaign to undermine an investigative journalist who has been a thorn in the side of the government…..

    The commentary is pretty united that Hager/police/Westpac were wrong
    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/opinion/news/article.cfm?c_id=466&objectid=11537615

    • whateva next? 4.1

      well lets hope Key (who is steering this obviously) is driven by the populace vote, although he’s caught in his own trap now.

      • Gas Kranken 4.1.1

        As the book itself revealed we are talking about a Black Ops room operating out of the Prime Minister’s department charged with the task of employing an attack blogger to do the National Party’s dirty work while a large core of Key’s supporters perceive him as a bloody good bloke that they would love to have round for a barbie and a beer. He is the master web weaver and he has created a trap, a trap that he believes he has coated in 100% pure NZ butter and has continually slid out of whilst trying to clamp the steel jaws of that same trap around those who expose him. I believe he will be caught in the trap he has made for himself because eventually this contest will change from an electoral one to one of credibility and Key has consistently attacked Nicky’s credibility and just like the NZ defence force lost the case they fought against Jon Stephenson, Key will eventually lose his case against Nicky.

  5. David H 5

    This could be the thing that stirs the public interest

  6. Aaron 6

    I’m glad you posted this – I couldn’t get past the part where they put Slater and Nicky in the same sentence!

  7. On the fence 7

    As a right winger I agree with this post. It was in the publics interest to know the information put out in dirty politics. I don’t happen to agree everything in the book but I believe the Nz public are better informed as a result. Putting slater in the same category however is just plain fucked up. I don’t think at any time was he acting in the publics interest.

    In a final point however is it actually legally defined what “public interest” is/means? I find the term can be open to interpretation when you look at both ends of the political spectrum.

    • RedLogix 7.1

      Thanks for this. Yes this ‘public interest’ idea can be quite tricky to pin down in the detail, but the wider picture is quite simple.

      It’s best understood when you ask “what purpose is being served here?” And while each end of the political spectrum will apply their preferred framework to it – the answer is usually not too hard to discern.

      The primary rationale for journalism is ‘the speaking of truth to power’. If you can fit inside that criterion I’d argue you’re on pretty safe ground to claim a public interest defense.

    • billmurray 7.2

      Your are about as much as a right -winger as my arse is on a bad day.

    • Draco T Bastard 7.3

      I think you’ll find that the concept of Public Interest is very contextual. Different contexts will give a different answer but, IMO, it really comes down to a single question: Should the public know about this?

  8. BM 8

    Even though I can’t stand the prick according to Slater, Hager only published stuff which could have been damaging to National every thing else was left out.

    Because of that, Dirty politics wasn’t so much public interest journalism but more of a hit piece done by a well known left wing political activist.

    Therefore Hager maybe pushing it up hill if he’s relying on a public interest defense.

    • ian 8.1

      Either way- I will support him.

      Whatever you do- I will support him.

      I want to ‘know him’.

    • On the fence 8.2

      What does it matter that Hager only published information damaging to national? As a voter it allowed me to make a more informed choice when I voted. I found the timing of the book release odd and many thought that it was to damage nationals election chances. I’ve always believed it would have sold better during this time and a little bit of the above. But many righties would have cried foul regardless of the release date so again? Meh.

      Would I love to know if Hager had dirt on labour or someone else on the left? Yep. Do I suspect that labour have skeletons in their closet they want to hide? Yep. Do I think it was a little biased? Probably. Can I prove any of it? Not a snowballs chance in hell. But then again he has the right to free speech as well. Journalism aside he can say what he wants.

      I voted national on the last 2 elections but that doesn’t my opinion that Hager was within the publics interest releasing this material. It didn’t change my vote but it certainly made me think before I cast it.

      • Anne 8.2.1

        I voted national on the last 2 elections but that doesn’t [alter] my opinion that Hager was within the publics interest releasing this material. It didn’t change my vote but it certainly made me think before I cast it.

        And that was exactly what Hager was aiming to do. Get people thinking. He said so on numerous occasions.

        Good comment On the fence and I agree dirty politics is not just confined to National. They’re just very good at it and do it more often than the other parties.

      • Tracey 8.2.2

        If Labour had skeletons Slater would know by now and would have published them ll. He is not one to show restraint in that regard.

    • North 8.3

      Hager apparently did leave out some incendiary ‘dirty shit’ about some (right-wing) actors which came to him in the source material. Left it out on the principled basis that its publication was superfluous to the point.

      How typically SlaterPorn to “claim’ that Hager published only material adverse to the National Party. Which is to float that there was stuff adverse to others. Without having to verify that. The cynically advised allusion is thought to be enough.

    • McFlock 8.4

      lol
      because Hager only published information relating to the government, his actions must therefore not have been in the public interest.

      Do you need to warm up before bending over backwards like that, or is it some form of permanent deformity?

      • Tracey 8.4.1

        It’s incredible how many people still have not taken the time to find out what “public interest” actually means as a legal defence.

    • Gas Kranken 8.5

      So who makes up the Lefts black ops crew? And who do they use as their attack blogger and paid shill?

      • Whateva Next 8.5.1

        Key’s gang (including their black ops crew) are a sensitive lot, and would consider ANY form of questioning an smear attempt.

        Narcissistic Insult: Bulletin from reality that, while capable of smartening us up, offends our ego. To avoid such insults, we cling to our illusions and limit our intelligence and inner freedom.

    • David H 8.6

      And if Nicky released everything he had, you would be calling him every kind of bastard under the sun for releasing the private details about the whaleslug.. Can’t haver it both ways. Which is what you want.

    • Tracey 8.7

      Again you misunderstand (as does Slater) what the definition of public interest is. he doesn’t have to publish everything but what he did publish was int he public interest. He had personal information that could have embarrassed Slater but DID NOT publish it because it was not in the public interest. Something Slater has been unable to control himself around.

      So no, Hager is NOT pushing it uphill on establishing “public interest” because it is directly related to the machinery of Government, of which National is integral and Labour is not.

      It’s like Slater, and you, have no memory of Corngate.

      • BM 8.7.1

        According to Slater he also had info that could have been embarrassing to the parties on the left, but he chose to leave that out.

        If he was doing public interest journalism he would have included Slaters dealings with the left wing parties as well,but since he didn’t it reads more like a political hit piece especially when you take into account the timing of when dirty politics was released.

        • Tracey 8.7.1.1

          Again you misunderstand (as does Slater) what the definition of public interest is. he doesn’t have to publish everything but what he did publish was int he public interest. He had personal information that could have embarrassed Slater but DID NOT publish it because it was not in the public interest. Something Slater has been unable to control himself around.

          So no, Hager is NOT pushing it uphill on establishing “public interest” because it is directly related to the machinery of Government, of which National is integral and Labour is not.

          It’s like Slater, and you, have no memory of Corngate.

  9. reason 9

    Basing an opinion on the statement ……”according to Slater” ……. leads most reasonable people to believe the opinion is shit

    Why would you take anything that super creep states as being genuine ? ….

    It all sound like excuses excuses from you …………. why not just admit you hate Hager and approve of nationals dirty politics if it enables them to ‘win’ ….. Cam slater the lost sole certainly does.

    Do you hate him because he’s made the opinions and beliefs you both share unpopular ???

  10. Tory 10

    Reason: Hager is a dick and Slater posts some interesting articles. Dirty Politics was Labours wet dream. Feeling better?

    • North 10.1

      Angry Tory.
      Frightened Of The Story.
      Consequently Roary.
      Ignoramus Tory !

    • Whateva Next 10.2

      As above Tory, Dirty Politics was a Narcissistic Insult to the Nats/Slater:

      Narcissistic Insult: Bulletin from reality that, while capable of smartening us up, offends our ego. To avoid such insults, we cling to our illusions and limit our intelligence and inner freedom.
      You seem to be proving the point

  11. millsy 11

    No one has really challenged Nikki Kaye’s involvement at the fringes — having that dinner with all those right wing internet trolls.

  12. reason 12

    About the only thing I’d believe from lost sole slaters mouth is if he said he gets nervous around west coasters ……………….

    But to get around Torys intellectual argument ……. summed up as “dick”

    An interesting short read regarding Nickys book onNationals dirty politics can be had at wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dirty_Politics

    From the page ………..”WhaleOil was hacked some time after he posted a blog post with the headline “Feral dies in Greymouth, did world a favour.” Three other children in this family had already been killed in accidents and the post provoked a ‘furious public reaction’. ( John key commiserated with Cam over this )

    Lets hope Judith crusher collins ‘press secretary’ does get up to their wiki editing/sanatizing tricks……………… again

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