Twice in a fortnight, we have had the unedifying spectacle of media running a false story based on a video on Cameron Slater’s Whaleoil blog. First it was the fake video that purported to show Jim Anderton saying only an earthquake could make him lose the mayoral race. Last night, it was a story that Labour’s Mana candidate, Kris Fa’afoi applied for a job with National shortly before going to work for Labour.
In both cases, media simply ran a story based on Slater’s word and the video he gave them.
Anyone who has met Slater knows he’s more than a few sandwiches short of a picnic. He doesn’t have the access or the ability to conjure up fake videos of Anderton from local TV or Fa’afoi using two year old footage. Slater is merely the crazy tool of the National Research Unit. They’re obviously behind most of the interesting material that Farrar and Slater release* and these put-up videos are no exception (Slater gets the stuff Farrar turns down).
Now, my comrades in the media, here’s a real story for you: how National uses proxies to run up false, muckraking media stories while appearing to keep its hands clean. It might take some actual research.
*(before you ask, no, we get nothing from the Goffice. To my knowledge, they haven’t even had the sense to formally contact us – ever. I’m guessing that’s unlikely to change. Brendon Burns said he and his Parliamentary colleagues might be off some Christmas card lists after they voted for CERRA (the Gerry Brownlee Enabling Act), and I think after our criticism of that, we’re off their lists too).
UPDATE: Danyl at the Dim Post makes a good point:
What’s unusual to me about the Cameron Slater phenomenon is not that there’s a crazy person writing crazy stuff on the internet – that’s a pretty widespread problem – but that when you visit his site and see the temper tantrums, conspiracy theories, mocking of people who die in tragic accidents, pictures of his favorite guns etc it’s really obvious that he’s crazy, and the long rambling digressions about his struggles with mental illness confirm the diagnosis.
But for some reason when most of the journalists working in the press gallery visit Whaleoil they don’t see a deranged person fabricating implausible lies, they see an important thinker and commentator whose statements need to be amplified and reported to the nation…