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Nat response to C/T scandal right from C/T playbook

Written By: - Date published: 11:49 am, June 30th, 2008 - 33 comments
Categories: john key, slippery, spin - Tags: ,

There’s a standard formula that Crosby/Textor has its clients use when damaging information comes out.

a) refuse to engage. The most senior public response to the revelation that Brand Key has been created by exactly the same people who ran Brash’s divisive, racist campaign in 2005 has come from Key’s chief of staff. No politician has commented. Key will be forced to comment during his Wednesday interviews but look for another C/T line that he will repeat in every interview something along the lines of ‘no, look, the real issue here is why Helen Clark is so obsessed with who I get advice from when hardworking Kiwis are suffering from 9 years of overtaxation’.

b) attack the messenger. Off-the-record comments to journos from senior Nats have focused on attacking Hager’s credibility, just as they have with other journos who don’t faithful report the lines (eg Barry Soper, Greg Robertson). As with the Hollow Men, National is spreading rumours that Hager has somehow ‘stolen’ National emails. Not only is that claim baseless (the Police concluded there was no theft), it also doesn’t explain who gave Hager faxes, meeting notes, and diaries.

c) misdirection. The ‘stolen email’ ruse is being used again. a classic piece of misdirection. Rather than looking at how the public image of Key and National has been created and the tactics they use to shut down the informed debate which is democracy’s life-blood, political commentators are already falling for the misdirection and asking ‘who gave Hager the info’? (any fool knows it’s the English camp).

This is the same formula we saw last week when Key revealed he knows nothing of New Zealand history, the same as we saw when Key said “we would love to see wages drop“, and we’ll see it again every time the mask of Brand Kep slips.

33 comments on “Nat response to C/T scandal right from C/T playbook ”

  1. ‘no, look, the real issue here is why Helen Clark is so obsessed with who I get advice from when hardworking Kiwis are suffering from 9 years of overtaxation’.

    maybe your guys could apply for the job
    thats a bloody good answer

  2. Ari 2

    I can’t wait for them to try and say the leak came from a stolen email.


  3. Billy 4

    Does Hager’s piece actually say what his source is?

  4. Andrew. No, it’s a classic misdirection –

    a) he avoids answering the legitimate question he has been asked

    b) he implies that Clark is attacking him personally and not doing anything else (both are untrue, it wasn’t her that exposed the C/T link and her government is putting worker friendly-policies into place all the time)

    c) the logical conclusion from the statement is that Key has some kind of solution to ‘overtaxation’ (or whatever issue he chooses) but he doesn’t.

    It is revealing that you think that a) politicians should have a paid outider creating a line for them to repeat endlessly and that b) a person like me who doesn’t believe in National party principles would be a suitabe person to create those lines simply because I’m good at making catchy lines.

  5. mike 6

    no, look, the real issue here is why Helen Clark is so obsessed with who I get advice from when hardworking Kiwis are suffering from 9 years of overtaxation’

    Could not agree more Steve.

    [and when Key says something along those lines, you’ll once again mindlessly lap it up but maybe this time you’ll ask ‘hey, what would Key do? And why do I want a man to be PM when I have no idea what he wold do with that power? SP]

  6. Billy 7

    simply because I’m god at making catchy lines.

    Surely “god” should start with a capital letter.

    Catchpa: Prince frivolous. You talikin’ ta me?

    [lprent: that was classic typo. I was about to fix it and found it was already fixed. Hubris repaired.]

  7. Blar 8

    Stevey-poo, you are believing your own spin.

    (the Police concluded there was no theft) doesn’t square with this:

    “There are strong indications that the e-mails were in printed form at the time of the theft, but with the thefts perhaps happening at any time over the two- year period it is very likely that they were stolen during several incidents,”

    Outright lying. Shame Steve, shame.

  8. Blar, should have been ‘outside theif’. THe police referred to it as a theft because the Nat’s told them no-one had given the emails and other material to Hager. In fact, we all know it was a leak by English and senior supporters.

  9. Lukas 10

    SP “we all know it was a leak by English and senior supporters”…. do we?

    Is this just like we all know that HC has ambitions for the UN?

  10. Ari 11

    Steve- yeah, I saw that five minutes later. I totally called it first though! lol!

    The good: Russel Norman is going out batting on this one. Hopefully that’ll let Helen stay clean, as she really can’t afford to touch this, whether it goes well or badly for National.

    Billy: Journalists don’t disclose sources of leaked information for obvious reasons.

    On the wider issue, I have to say that this might be an unintended consequence of the EFA- by limiting the amount of money spent on advertising, the downside of hiring a PR firm just got a lot smaller. Since National had so much spare cash, they can afford the nastiest ones around who eat democratic principles for breakfast. Ew.

    I’ve been worrying for a while about what National would pull out of its hat to do with all the extra cash. Do you suppose this is better or worse than funneling it into nominally independent third-party campaigns like the ‘Sensible’ Sentencing Trust?

  11. Blar 12

    You have attempted to claim the police concluded there was no theft in the past and that it was a line run by the police. Tell the Truth Steve.

    You are entitled to think that no theft occurred but to claim the Police endorse your conspiracy theories is contemptible.

  12. outofbed 13

    Colin Espiner has interesting

  13. Blar 14

    “This is the same formula we saw last week when Key revealed he knows nothing of New Zealand history”

    Bro, you clearly didn’t get the abandon ship memo. That attack on Key backfired big time and you are just embarassing yourself. I think Paul Moon’s comments put an end to the story:

    Historian says Key’s comments are accurate

    Press Release by Auckland University of Technology at 3:10 pm, 27 Jun 2008

    AUT University Professor of history Paul Moon has come out in support of National Party leader John Key’s comments about New Zealand being a nation that came together peacefully…

  14. Lukas 15

    Blar… it was a rogue Police investigation full of ‘spin’ and ‘hit and run’ findings by the cops… sheesh don’t you know anything!

  15. Ari 16

    Steve- well, I’m not sure we know it was a leak from English in particular, but when you have ANY digital security issues, the first likelihood is human error. The next on there is that someone inside your network has deliberately compromised it.

    Stolen emails are waaaaay down the list. Frankly, it’d be easier to find a leak than to hack Parliament even if they only used normal computer security measures.

    The emails were most likely acquired through a leak, as stealing printouts or hacking the email system would be ridiculously hard.

    (not to mention there are much more damaging things discussed by email than associations with PR firms, and if Nicky Hager had access to all their emails, he’d likely have a field day)

  16. Matthew Pilott 17

    Mmm blar, even the Herald was praising Key’s accurate account of history in today’s editorial. You read it? I guess they forgot to send the memo to them as well eh…

  17. There was a time when men like Nicky Hager were admired for their tenacity in finding out what our politicians were up to.
    It would be considered their duty to dig up dirt about politicians, and no I don’t necessarily mean about their private life but what they were upto when trying to run our lives.

    Here we have a man who came back from a job in the most corrupt of all professions; the Investment banking world of Wall street where he made it as the global head of foreign exchange for one of the most corrupt Banks Merrill Lynch, in March 2001 and immediately got himself a place in the top of Nationals political hierarchy.

    No sooner is Brash ousted and he takes the top dog place. The first thing he does is get C/T over and engages them to help him build his poppy profile.

    He is connected to the same people who fucked this country and its workers over in the early nineties. Ruth Richardson, Don Brash and according to the Hollow man a whole slew of other super rich creepy crawlies.

    The only things he has uttered when unchecked were about dropping wages and working longer hours, Maori/Pakeha relations, the war in Iraq, his absence of opinion about the Springbok tour (Even the Dutch had an opinion on that one at the time, we greatly admired the NZers who were opposed to the tour generally), the Kyoto protocol,
    just to name a few. They give a portrait of a man who has never given politics much thought, doesn’t give a toss about the electorate and knew he needed some super slick and nasty operators to keep him on the straight and narrow.

    I think it is imperative that people like Nicky Hager keep digging in the dirt and find out what secretive and slippery politicians are up to especially if they have to rely on C/T to help them through.
    If John Key can’t be open and honest about what he wants for this country and he is happy to take orders from C/T with corporate bigwigs such as Robert Champion de Crespigny AC in the background what guarantees us that he is going to take orders from the us the people who voted him in.

  18. vto 19

    I really cannot believe you guys are on your high horse over these tactics;

    “a) refuse to engage. b) attack the messenger.c) misdirection. ”

    I don’t want this to be seen as a personal attack, because you seem to be good people (if a little naive he he), but it really is pathetic.

    And I suspect the public will see it as exactly that too. Whoop de doo – politicians are already held in incredibly low regard because of their various displays of dishonesty and DECEPTION. And refusing to answer questions and answering other questions and attacking the person rather than the issue. They see them constantly avoid the question. Always always always always. And they see Clark as the consummate politician (read consummate deceiver in their eyes). Same goes for Cullen.

    It will be no surprise whatsoever to the average voter. In fact it is likely to backfire as people will say again “w t f are those pricks arguing about that for? There are much mroe important issues out there, like the spiralling cost of living.” And quite rightly. And Clark will drop yet another point in the polls

    p.s. sometimes some of you accuse me of being some sort of stooge or plant by kiwiblog or the nats or whatever. Completely wrong.

  19. lprent 20


    Stolen emails are waaaaay down the list. Frankly, it’d be easier to find a leak than to hack Parliament even if they only used normal computer security measures.

    Exactly. Trying to get them in transit is a pain. It could be done wire-sharked or some sniffer. But it is a bitch getting into the right physical place and to sort out occasional smtp port packets from all of the other packets and for that matter from all of the smtp port packets that float out of any reasonably large organisation.

    It is so much easier to pick up e-mails at either end. You’d have to have a really crap firewall to allow scanning of a computer over the local network. You could get it from a web interface or external gateway to a imap/exchange server. But surely they’d have changed the passwords?

    The simplest, easiest and most likely explanation is the one that Nat’s don’t like. Someone internal is collecting them and passing them on. Also that it has probably just happened again.

  20. mike 21

    “a whole slew of other super rich creepy crawlies.”

    Oh please spare us bitterness and envy stuff Eve.
    What a load of conspiracy theory crap you are spouting.

  21. lprent 22

    vto: I personally don’t count you amongst stooges, plants, trolls or whatever. When you first came on I was a bit unsure. But you adapted to the more argumentative “agree to disagree” state that runs around here. You’re definitely not a line-pusher.

    Most of the regulars here would probably think the same – they certainly converse with you.

  22. Matthew Pilott 23

    vto, National and Key have hired advisors that specialise in dishonest politics, distracting from proper issues and acting in a general way that turns people off politics.

    You then come here and ask why we’re on our collective ‘high horse’ because we’re criticising this.

    You then say the average punter will be more interested in, for example, the cost of living.

    Key has hired advisors to make damn sure that he won’t have to give a substantiative answer to the very type of issue you reckon everyone is concerned about. Their purpose is to make people ask the question, but to not expect the answer.

    And you wonder why a few people here think this is important. You answered your own queston and didn’t see it for what it was.

  23. Mike,

    All I’ve seen coming from you is nasty one liners and smears and Conspiracy nut is just one of them, so I’m going to leave it at that.

    About the bitterness and the envy the following:

    I have some very wealthy friends amongst which bankers whom I would trust with my last nickel and our landlady whom I admire for her discipline and her humanity and with whom I have very entertaining discussions.

    Funny how John Key or National are never one of them.

    Especially our landlady, who has travelled and seen the world and remembers clearly and with disgust the National administrations with Ruth Richardson and the old crowd.

    She is the one who has taught me a lot about NZ politics and she thinks John Key is a total sleaze.

    But she says:”People forget, they forget the privatisations, the selling of assets and the cut backs in social expenditure and they will vote them in again you’ll see. People are so stupid, they will never see that National will do nothing for the common man, ever.”

    Now if a well to do, hard working lady who has a huge dairy farm and some other nifty investments and who has both legs firmly rooted in the reality of the everyday routine of rural live feels that way and I find rich creepy crawlies (rich creepy crawlies do not equal every rich person) in the background of the Smiling Assassin why should I not feel equally uncomfortable.

    That has nothing to do with conspiracies but everything with smelling a rat.

  24. vto 25

    Mr Pilott, you have a talent for finding some part of a thing and turning it into a some thing.

    But my take on the whole palava is that you could easily swap the words labour and national in all of this and the appearance would be the same.

    btw, I love the irony in this statement of yours… “that specialise in dishonest politics, distracting from proper issues and acting in a general way that turns people off politics.”

  25. Rex Widerstrom 26

    As I’ve said on an earlier thread, CT aren’t all that scary any more. It’s like if Hitler had lived and had been wheeled out by the skinheads… even the worst rhetoric sounds a little thin when the epitome of evil is wearing a diaper.

    But I choked on my coffee on this quote: …shut down the informed debate which is democracy’s life-blood… I thought for a moment I’d stumbled onto an old EFA thread.

    Ensuring the free flow of the “lifeblood of democracy” isn’t exactly a strong point of either side of politics, and has been becoming less so over time. That’s why so many people now have a “pox on both their houses” attitude and until the politicians change it’s going to get worse not better no matter what The Standard, Kiwiblog, The Herald, Nicky Hager, Ian Wishart or anyone else might wish.

    After falling for Rudd’s rhetoric Australians are realising he’s dissembling even more than Howard used to. He’s just suffered a 7 percentage point reversal in the Gippsland by-election. But on he waffles, using all the tactics you’ve correctly called Key on.

    It used to upset me that none of them will learn. Now I just content myself with knowing it will hasten the day when the political system collapses under the weight of citizens’ disbelief in its value and we get the chance to create something that returns power to where it belongs.

  26. Pascal's bookie 27

    vto, Why do you find it ironic?

    Just throwing up your hands and saying ‘oh but it’s obvious’ is a cop out. Thing is when Labour was in opposition in 99 they had a bunch of actual issues that they campaigned on.

    Market rents, raise minimum wage, raise taxes, repeal ECA, no more asset sales, undo ACC ‘reform’, and so on. Even if you disagree with the wisdom of them they were actual concrete policies. Were they also pushing the line about a tired failed government that was out of touch? Of course, but they had concrete policy as well and they were more than happy to talk about it. That’s the difference.

    The National party is running on a bunch of platitudes. Lauren Order, things are bad, must be the gummints fault somehow, we’ll do some unspecified reforms that make things betterer, get back to you on what they are, crikey look at the price of cheese. No we’re totally not like that National Party under Don Brash, always opposed the war, hate nukes, Global warming sucks. Stop talking about us, lookit the petrol price, feck me how did that happen? Must be gay socialism. Goodness me isn’t our history one of peaceful love, (what are those Maori on about now). Aspiration, gaspiration.

    It’s pretty crap, and it works. But I don’t think it’s much to be proud of or excited about. I think it turns people, not only off politics in a general sense, but in the sense that politics is about ideas, and what’s best for the nation, and is important. Y’know, democracy.

    I have absolutely no problem with parties disagreeing on issues and approaches. Love it in fact. I’ve voted for parties on both sides and different deviations from the mean. I’ve voted for parties that I’ve agreed with on a lot of things, and parties that I’ve agreed with on only one thing but very strongly. I’d like to know what it is I’m supposed to agree with Key about.

    If your argument is that Labour or the Standard or some posters here are using CT techniques now, then perhaps Key could get his A into G and release some actual policy for us to talk about. At the moment if we want to talk about what the National party are doing/saying all there is to say is ‘Did you get a load of that gobshite? Where’s the beef?’. That’s not misdirection, that’s wanting to know what a prospective government wants to do. I’m sure posters here would much rather be talking about policy.

    If Key doesn’t want to release any, then not only is it perfectly legitimate to talk about that fact, it’s irresponsible not to speculate why. 😉

  27. Lew 28

    PB: Classic.

    You should write John Key’s 113th Dream.


  28. Graeme 29

    As with the Hollow Men, National is spreading rumours that Hager has somehow ‘stolen’ National emails. Not only is that claim baseless (the Police concluded there was no theft)

    The police concluded there was no hacking, not that there was no theft.

    I was going to copy the bits in the police release (to which you link!) that indicated they believed there was actual theft, but that basically would have been the whole thing. There were around a dozen.

    But let’s just note this particular extract, in which they explicitly state that they have sufficient evidence to prove that there was a theft:

    The investigation established that e-mails created between October 2003 and November 2005 had been stolen from the ownership of Dr Brash but found no evidence of any thefts since November 2005.

    [yes but a leak by someone other than Brash would count as a theft in this language. The Police found no evidence of an external ‘theif’ it was a National party leak. SP]

  29. Ari 30

    Is it a theft if someone authorised to take them takes them and gives them to someone not authorised to have them? Generally we call that a leak, and it’s a time-honoured journalistic tradition.

    Fact remains, there is no good evidence that the emails were taken by someone not authorised to take them.

  30. Graeme 31

    Ari – that is not theft. And the police know that that is not theft.

    The fact remains that police have not publicly released the evidence that led them to conclude in their investigation that “emails … had been stolen.” However, that is not the same as there being no good evidence that the emails were taken by someone not authorised to take them. If there was no good evidence one would like to think the police wouldn’t have jumped to such a conclusion – least of all mentioned it nearly a dozen times in their media release.

  31. Matthew Pilott 32

    The fact remains that police have not publicly released the evidence that led them to conclude in their investigation that “emails had been stolen.’

    Well there is evidence – they were in someone else’s posession! I don’t know enough to comment as to whether that’s grounds for the police statements Graeme quoted above, but you’d assume not.

    As Graeme said, the police know what is an is not theft – but someone in posession of something could be judged to constitute evidence of theft, even though it may have been as the result of a (very carefully concealed) leak!

  32. Ari 33

    Graeme- I know it’s not theft. That was kind of my point 😉 Maybe I need more smileys!

    As for the rest- I’ll need to look into that really, but I really don’t recall hearing anything about any suspicious evidence leading them to believe it was a theft- just that the word theft was being thrown around unjustified. While I’m sure the police are intimately familiar with what’s a theft and what’s not, I’m not trusting any conclusion I haven’t made myself, as the alleged victims are not exactly people I trust to be honest. (few MPs are, sadly)

    Well there is evidence – they were in someone else’s posession! I don’t know enough to comment as to whether that’s grounds for the police statements Graeme quoted above, but you’d assume not.

    Emails can be copied without any loss of originals. Someone having an email you don’t want them to have is about as much proof of theft as someone having a poem you wrote that you didn’t give directly to them- xeroxes, cut and paste, it makes the concept of “theft” of information a little silly in some ways. I think you actually need to come out with some decent evidence of physical break-in/trespassing to call something a theft.

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