The first group of people who will have been incensed by the disclosures made in Dirty Politics are reporters who have seen Slater given preferential access to information from their OIA requests and who was then allowed to release the information and apply his own particular type of spin to the information. I suspect that reporters will from now give this Government a really hard time and I do not blame them. The cynical degree of manipulation involved should have the main stream media seething.
We are already seeing the signs. John Armstrong’s column in Saturday’s Herald was a stunningly good one. I have been hard on him in the past. It appears that he is abiding by the highest standards of journalism and calling it as he sees it. All power to him.
And another reporter who should take a bow is Guyon Espiner. His interview with John Key this morning was exceptionally good. He did not allow Key to waffle off and laughed at Key’s attempt to theorise about left wing bloggers hacking websites when there was a perfectly good example of a right wing blogger doing so. And his question whether Key was going to tolerate Collins’s behaviour in leaking the details of a public servant to Slater was put repeatedly but unanswered.
Andrea Vance, a reporter whose subtlety escapes many, has posted a perfectly factual article concerning John Key that has that so many hidden barbs in it that I do not know where to start.
The article presented Key’s response to news that Jason Ede had recently had swipe card access to Parliament despite the fact that he now works for the National Party and not for Government in any form. What it does though is completely undermine Key’s denials of anything inappropriate by setting out his responses in full. Essentially Key said that he can’t explain why Jason Ede still has a staff access card to Parliament even though he is now a National Party employee as opposed to a Parliamentary or Ministerial employee. Key’s various denials included the following:
“I don’t know, you’d have to ask whoever is responsible for that. But it’s not me,” Key said.
“He works for the National party now, that’s all I know.”
Key didn’t know why Ede was at Parliament and he wasn’t visiting his office.
“You’d have to ask him. He hasn’t been in my [physical] office for years… He was originally a press secretary years and years ago. Again Hager’s got it wrong, he’s not two doors down from me. I hardly ever talk to him. Most of the work he did in research and communications was either with backbenchers or other people.”
Key said he doesn’t know what Ede’s role with National was now.
As can be seen there was a whole lot of don’t knows going on.
Key was also asked about why no action was being taken against Judith Collins for passing the name of a public servant to Slater and causing a vicious online attack on the public servant. He used the defence that you know is at the end of defences that Key will use and that was that Labour does it too.
At the end of the day, should people pass names, I don’t know… Labour does that too,” Key said.
It is a strange test of morality to adopt to let your opponent choose your minimum standard of morality. And if Key can point out one occasion where Labour has caused a witch hunt by the leaking of someone’s details I would be pleased to see it.
It is noticeable that Key is now downplaying his links to Slater. I am not surprised.
“If I have a particular reason to call him, I will. It’s three or four times a year. I might call the mainstream media three or four times a day.”
Finally Key denied knowing which National Party staff member accessed Labour’s membership database in 2011 saying “I don’t have that information”. Couldn’t he just ask?
It really does make you wonder. How can a guy who is so lacking in information maintain that Hager’s allegations are wrong?
Meanwhile National is trying to create the impression that it is the innocent victim of a massive left wing conspiracy. The random theft of laptops and phones over an extended period of time is alleged to be evidence of this. One of the incidents is the burglary of Mark Mitchell’s Parliamentary Office in September last year. As pointed out by Danyl McLaughlan given the exceptional security around Parliament an outside party’s involvement is unlikely. The only people with access to the area are National’s MPs and staffers. Maybe they should be questioned.