The escape of exnzpat, Part 30

Big trouble under the shadow of the Tower

 

The tower loomed ahead in the dark like an ancient, druid obelisk.  It was a lonely thing, and in the fading light it took on the color of desolate gray; it was as hoary and as ugly as a pile of wetted ash.  There was power here:  horrible, evil, perverted; of truth and light, under its dark oblivion, I saw neither.  Here, only menace lived.  That we should arrive after dusk, when all the goodness of the golden sun had run from the world, frightened me terribly.  And Lilith, my limping, broken friend reeking of despair for her lost dog, only made the coming peril all the more terrible.  Blood leaked from between my teeth and I did not know from whence it came nor, I think, did I care, for the tower ahead consumed all of my senses.  Its enigmatic darkness commanded something like awe in me.  I’d never thought of death as a tangible thing and yet, here it was right in front of me. Continue reading →

‘Dirty Politics’ revisited: More evidence of deceit and covering tracks

It’s funny how the brain works. Earlier this week, I passed a copy of Nicky Hager’s book Dirty Politics on to a new workmate after he’d expressed a harshly negative opinion of Hager — but when I asked him if he’d read any of Hager’s books he admitted he had not. Rather than lend him mine, I bought a copy of Dirty Politics for him to read. In handing it over, I flicked through it again. Although I hadn’t read the book in a blinding hurry when I first got it (read my original comments here) I realised there was material in the book that I had forgotten.

There was also some important information in Hager’s book which has been given extra context by the Rawshark/Whaledump ‘dumps’ of material on which parts of the book were based, and by the Chisholm inquiry into the level of former cabinet minister Judith Collins’ contact/involvement with Cameron Slater and their joint machinations. (The Chisholm inquiry report is available here PDF 720k)

Carrick Graham: deceitful smear campaigns "without apologies."

Carrick Graham: deceitful (ghostwritten) attacks and smear campaigns “without apologies.”

Working within tightly prescribed terms of reference, Justice Chisholm inquired into the sleazy, dishonest ‘destabilisation’ scheme which saw dirty PR operator Carrick Graham apparently engage Slater and fellow attack blogger Cathy Odgers/Cactus Kate to publish smears against financial regulators and investigators on behalf of Hanover Finance director Mark Hotchin. They were ‘working for’ Graham, Chisholm finds. Apparently some journalists were (witting or unwitting) pawns in that dirty campaign. Shame.

So I decided to read Dirty Politics again. And even though as I write this my own launch day copy is on the bookshelf behind me, as the result of a passing comment about his own long form reading habits Giovanni Tiso made when we met for coffee in Wellington recently, I decided to get the Kindle versionWell, that was a good idea. (Thanks, Giovanni!) I’m thoroughly enjoying reading it this way, and the extra features like the ‘X-Ray’ view.

Arise, Sir Whaledump

Like probably thousands of others, I downloaded and read the Whaledump dumps. They were released, it seems to me, in response to the puerile defence run by some embarrassed by the revelations in Dirty Politics — from the Prime Minister down to his loyal poodles like Mike Hosking: “Nicky Hager is just making it up!” Of course he wasn’t.

In my own case, I loaded the dumps directly into my beloved DevonThink Pro (last mentioned here) so they are imminently searchable and cross references were created by the program’s AI. So now, re-reading the book, where Hager quotes a conversation between Cameron Slater and one of his co-conspirators, in some cases I’ve been able to easily pull up that fragment and read it in context.

I’ve also been struck again by how responsible Hager has been in his use of this material.

Obviously, Slater, Graham, Odgers, Jordan Williams, Simon Lusk, Judith ‘tip line’ Collins, etc. would like to see the whole correspondence suppressed to obscure their devious schemes — and their character? — but I can definitely see the ‘public interest’ justification for its publication.

So, anyway, in the middle of this — and the coincidental burst of publicity that Slater’s ghostwriter and paymaster Carrick Graham received (see my previous post) I’ve naturally been thinking about Rawshark/Whaledump, and, indeed, re-reading some of the material this [alleged] hacker and whistleblower revealed.

Then, last night, after winning an award for journalism, former Fairfax NZ, now NZ Herald journalist Matt Nippert tweeted his acknowledgement of the role Rawshark/Whaledump played in his and fellow winner David Fisher’s work this last year:  Continue reading →

Carrick Graham, vendettas and miasma

Pic from North & South, digital effects Peter Aranyi.

Pic: Adrian Malloch, North & South, digital effects Peter Aranyi.

I don’t talk much about PR attack blogger Cameron Slater’s sometime paymaster and ghostwriter Carrick Graham, although I haven’t completely ignored him — (see?).

Carrick’s claim to fame was revealed by Nicky Hager’s book Dirty Politics, and in somewhat redacted material leaked to the news media and further afield by the [alleged] hacker Rawshark through his Whaledump twitter account and various ‘dumps’.

Ghostwriter Graham, along with extreme right wing* (former) blogger lawyer Cactus Kate — Cathy Odgers, who was another of Cameron Slater’s ghostwriters — was apparently hired to run public ‘reputation attacks’ on public health advocates and scientists, as well as the financial crime investigation units looking into the activities of failed financier Mark Hotchin.

The Chisholm inquiry revealed Carrick’s destabilisation campaign against financial regulators. Graham somehow managed to convince Judge Lester Chisholm that his role was only a tertiary role — behind Slater and Cathy Odgers, even though he employed them!
These activities were, in my view, a low point in recent history — for journalism and for the public relations industry.

Now Carrick Graham might see all that as ‘just business’. OK. But, as someone prominent says, ‘There’s a range of views on that.’

By an astonishing coincidence, apparently Carrick Graham isn’t a member of the PR Institute of NZ, so therefore, not subject to their code of conduct and ethics. How convenient.

So I read Sciblogger Peter Griffin’s post about Carrick Graham’s ongoing mercenary PR attack activities with a curled lip. It’s worth reading: “Carrick Graham still gunning for public health researchers

Click to visit sciblogs

Click to visit sciblogs

Money quote:

The piece reveals that when Newport visited Graham’s Parnell office, he was greeted with “an array of passport-sized photographs, stuck to the wall like a TV cop show operations room, linked by colour thread. These are his current targets, complete with their affiliated organisations and their available budgets”.
The current targets, he adds, are “people linked to the HRC, the Health Research Council. This is the major funder on behalf of central government of biomedical, public health, Maori health and Pacific health research … these are the people Graham is currently being paid to attack”.

“…these are the people Graham is currently being paid to attack.” Pretty grubby, eh?

– P

Cathy Odgers commemorative stamp

Cathy Odgers commemorative stamp

* my definition: further right than <1% ACT Party, which Cathy Odgers left in despair, partly at its choosing nutty old men as leaders.

The Hollow Man: PM’s “fabricated” smear on Snowden documents

FUD

Oxford Dictionary

Evoking FUD (Fear Uncertainty and Doubt) is a tactic commonly used by tobacco lobbyists and climate change denialists – attempting to impugn the veracity of evidence. In this case the Prime Minister’s empty smear has been exposed …

Fabricated_highlight

The New Zealand Prime Minister’s much-repeated smear of Edward Snowden’s leaked NSA documents detailing NZ intelligence  (GCSB) operations against our trading partners and friends. (Click to enlarge)

 

Click to read at nzherald.co.nz

Click to read at nzherald.co.nz

The NZ Herald‘s David Fisher reports

The Prime Minister’s office has said it has no factual basis for suggesting Edward Snowden documents which exposed GCSB secrets were “fabricated”.
… The “fabrication” claim has been part of the Prime Minister’s standard response to revelations of activities carried out by New Zealand’s electronic eavesdropping agency.

… The Herald sought any information held by the Prime Minister which informed him or his office over the alleged “fabrication”.
The Prime Minister’s chief of staff Wayne Eagleson said “no information has been identified”. He said the PM’s office had to refuse the [Official Information Act] request because the “information requested does not exist or cannot be found”.

Pretty shabby work from the Prime Minister’s Office. Just what we’ve come to expect. Good on David Fisher for calling them on this BS.

Mr Key’s penchant for personally smearing the integrity of journalists and others with embarrassing or inconvenient evidence is well-established. (viz. Nicky Hager, Jon Stephenson, Bradley Ambrose.)

It has always been, in my view, one of Mr Key’s least attractive traits*, and this time his office has been caught out doing it again, with no real basis.

– P

* See Are you dating a tyrant? Take our simple quiz to find out!

Following through on a complaint to TVNZ re Mike Hosking’s lack of fairness

‘Talk is cheap,’ as the saying goes. I sent this formal complaint in to TVNZ (my first!) last week about Mike Hosking’s unfair victim-bashing. A friend encouraged me to post it here – possibly to inspire others to follow suit. I was reluctant, wary of giving the impression of grandstanding. But he asked me to do it again today — so, here you go…

Click on the images below to enlarge the pages, or here it is as a 3 page PDF (450Kb).

Over to you. – P

2015_05_04_22_30_58
Continue reading →

Russell Brand’s (quieter) Ed ‘Milibrand’ interview

I heard excerpts of this interview on BBC PM early this morning — and wanted to watch it. I’m glad I did.

Good to see the ‘despondency message’ (“Why vote? It doesn’t matter”) Brand has promoted being challenged.

Miliband’s points – making change through politicians can be hard work, slower than you want, and subject to well-funded and powerful opposition (including from the media) were, no doubt tailored to this audience, but I wouldn’t call them inauthentic – would you? It’s not easy – for the citizens or the politicians. And change takes time.

See what you think. (Is Miliband right about media moguls like Rupert Murdoch being “much less powerful than he used to be”? Hmm. Maybe.)

You may also be interested in this earlier post which featured the infamous(?), wonderful, lively, Jeremy Paxman interview with Russell Brand — which was the context for the interview above:
Orchestrating smear campaigns against your rivals is seen as dodgy in business, so what about politics?

– P

PS I know some of my friends won’t be impressed. That’s OK.

The road to Mike Hosking, vilifier of young women

Mike Hosking. Not what you would call a well-ropunded person. (Click to enlarge.)

Mike Hosking. Sadly, not what you would call a well-rounded person. (Click to enlarge.)

Some of us have always seen radio announcer Mike Hosking as a puffed-up little prat.

I was there at Broadcasting House when this shortish young guy with a big voice and a very strange manner arrived in the Network Newsroom. He’d come across from Radio NZ’s commercial network. We were one big happy family then – this was before the commercial network was spun off as The Radio Network. I still have the launch shirt with the TRN lollipop logo on the front somewhere. Mike was “23 going on 60,” as one newsroom wag described him.

Mike looked like a school leaver wearing his uncle’s suit. And shoes. He was prematurely conservative, a yokel with a clichéd radio jock’s voice, in the big smoke and in a big hurry. I worked with a reporter who would become Mike’s first wife. They seemed pretty suited. Marie was a bit of an oddball too (maybe we all were?) She was a little harsh with people around her at times, but then radio news can be a pressure job. Radio’s rolling news deadlines can be wearying. But she seemed a competent reporter, probably better than me. More steel-edged.

People at Radio NZ were generally happy for them and the couple seemed to keep to themselves. Mike dressed more and more like a bank manager with flash, old men’s suits and silk ties. Years later the couple would become ‘famous’ for trying to keep paparazzi from photographing their twins in public. Mike, it seemed, was a protective father and I admired at least that about him. Which makes his acid victim-bashing this week all the more galling for me.

Continue reading →

Hey RaboDirect, if Mike Hosking’s selling you, I’m not buying.

NOTE THE BRANDING: Mike Hosking's nasty, protracted vilification of a victim brought to you by TVNZ One News, Seven Sharp and RaboDirect. Remember those names.

NOTE THE BRANDING: Mike Hosking’s nasty, protracted vilification of a young woman victim – brought to you by TVNZ One News, Seven Sharp and RaboDirect. Remember those names. (Click to enlarge)

A nasty side of radio announcer Mike Hosking spilled out into view last week as he ‘bashed’ the victim of John Key’s serial bullying.

Hosking, supported by TVNZ’s OneNews, sponsored by RaboDirect, vilified the waitress whom the Prime Minister admits he repeatedly harassed, pulling her hair at her workplace over several months, despite her objections.

In a bizarre and deeply unpleasant tirade, Hosking castigated the victim as ‘selfish’ for speaking up publicly about her treatment by Mr Key. He accused her of being ‘puffed-up’, ‘self-involved’ and politically motivated. These are all epithets that could far more properly be applied to Mike Hosking, in my opinion.
I only watched the video clip yesterday afternoon. It was far worse than I had expected. It’s viewable at the Facebook page cited below, or (if you can stand it) here is the audio:
Continue reading →

The twisted trail of the NZ Herald’s ‘statement from the editor’ re Ms Glucina

Updated with NZ Herald editor Shayne Currie’s memo to staff – see bottom.

A lot of journalists, myself included, are compulsive information hoarders. We archive and keep things ‘just in case’ we may some time, in the distant future, want to refer to it. I keep this scan of Tim Hunter’s story about Carrick Graham deviously spinning for Mark Hotchin in that category. Who knows when I might want to refer to it?

I remember wincing with recognition when I read a report that around the time she was charged in connection with the News Of The World phone hacking scandal, Rebecca Brooks had instructed her PA to go into a storage room and remove a box of Brooks’ journalistic notebooks from her time at the paper … and they were never seen again.

Technology’s on our side. Just as the NSA declared its mission statement in in the slogan ‘Sniff it all, collect it all, store it all…’ (or something like that) …
collect it all posture NSA-mica
… so it’s a few mouse clicks to retain a copy of something published on the ‘web’. I do it all the time, and store a lot of that ‘data’ in a brilliant (Mac) programme called DevonThink Pro, which applies devilishly clever AI to categorise and make links between data in my database-archive(s). (DTPro is a brilliant tool and I heartily recommend it.)

Pretty yellow journalism at the best of times.

Pretty yellow journalism at the best of times.

Anyway, yesterday, it became clear that NZ Herald ‘reigning gossip queen’ Rachel Glucina had seemingly acted in an ethically questionable way (see below) to get a statement/interview from the woman at the centre of a scandal about the NZ Prime Minister repeatedly harassing a waitress by pulling her hair. See The Daily Blog for the original story and a follow-up with the waitress’s account of Ms Glucina’s actions.

I said after reading Ms Glucina’s piece that it seemed to me she’d gone into damage-control mode for the Prime Minister (she’s a fan) and had attempted to characterise the waitress’s speaking out as a political act:  ‘That “strong political views” phrase seems like the whole point of Ms Glucina’s and @nzherald’s PR/’reportage’. ‘ — but that was without knowing how Ms Glucina had [apparently] posed as a PR expert working for the waitress’s employers.

The NZ Herald editor Shayne Currie, no doubt stung by criticism of his paper and its ethical standards in using such tactics, rushed to defend the paper’s reputation – and incidentally, Ms Glucina’s integrity.

He ‘issued a statement’ on the matter. Here it is in reporter Dylan Moran’s email in box timed 10.08am … Continue reading →

Govt’s mischievous pet monkey flings own dung at zookeeper. (Matthew Hooton disgraces himself. Again.)

Intense. When spin doctor Matthew Hooton stays calm, all is well. But when he gets wound up ... meh, not so much. (pic: Radio NZ)

Intense. When spin doctor Matthew Hooton stays calm, all is well. But when he gets wound up … meh, not so much. (pic: Radio NZ)

Pro-government spin doctor Matthew Hooton disgraced himself on the radio again yesterday.

I didn’t get to hear it until late last night as I’ve been busy. But when I did, once again I genuinely worried for his state of mind. And I wondered what the producers of Kathryn Ryan’s show can be thinking about this recidivist, and his increasingly rambunctious ‘performances’.

I’ve observed before, here and elsewhere, that such is Matthew’s apparent deep-seated bitterness towards investigative journalist and author Nicky Hager, that he (Matthew) seems prone to completely lose his shit … equilibrium.

Yesterday, on the public radio ‘political commentary’ slot to which the severely-compromised (in my view) right wing propagandist continues to be invited to appear, Matthew once again made evident his contorted world view and pursued his spittle-flecked personal vendetta against Hager. He cheerfully smeared NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, criticised the news judgement of any news media reporting Snowden’s revelations about illegal spying and surveillance, ran defence for this country’s own craven and compromising spying activities at the behest of the US, and even stooped to reds-under-the-bed garbage.

You can listen to the whole Nine to Noon ‘Politics’ segment here at the Radio NZ website, but here’s a 3 minute clip of Matthew Hooton losing his rag, shouting over everyone else – and overall being quite the unpleasant dick. Listen to host Kathryn Ryan groan and sigh as (once again) she’s subjected to Hooton’s belligerence and disrespect. If I was her producer, he’d be shown the door for this bullshit. Simple.


Matthew Hooton makes a dick of himself and exposes his irrational venom for Nicky Hager
MP3 file

What’s wrong with reporting the news?, Kathryn Ryan asks.
“Well it needs to be positioned correctly!” Hooton cries. What a professional.

– P

The P word PLAGIARISM in today’s news aggregation game

Note: Just this morning, 13 April 2015, while searching for a graphic in the media library of this blog to insert in a comment, I came across this post (below) in ‘drafts’ from July 2014. I have no idea why I neglected to publish it at the time.

Reading it again this morning, I found some of my comments about Cameron Slater’s role as a deceitful PR attack propagandist quite … intriguing, in hindsight – particularly the references to Carrick Graham, Jason Ede and Simon Lusk ghost-writing material published in Slater’s name. I’ve noted elsewhere that reading Nicky Hager’s book ‘Dirty Politics’ made me feel like one of the blind men describing an elephant from the parts he could feel. Look how close I was … – P


This week [see note above] the phenomenally successful news aggregator site Buzzfeed apologised to its readers and ‘let go’ writer Benny Johnson after it was shown Johnson had repeatedly “lifted phrases and sentences from other websites”.

Click to read at Buzzfeed

Click to read at Buzzfeed

At first I thought it was a joke, given Buzzfeed’s … um, … demonstrated history (business model, even?) of — let’s be diplomatic here — re-purposing copy from other sources, then slapping on a ‘You’ll never believe what this boy scout found in Kim Kardashian’s trash!’-style headline in an effort to gather internet clicks. (A successful effort, to pay credit where it’s due.)

Here’s Johnson’s own apology on Twitter today:

Click to read at Twitter

Click to read at Twitter

‘Buzzfeed’ and ‘click-bait’ are, it seems to me, two word compounds made for each other. It’s unusual for an enterprise (web-based or not) to make as large a cultural mark. Even if it is temporary.

Nevertheless, it is true, and Buzzfeed’s Ben Smith makes the point in his apology, that Buzzfeed has come a long way, journalistically, from its roots as …

“…a laboratory for content” employing “writers [who] didn’t have journalistic backgrounds and weren’t held to traditional journalistic standards, because we weren’t doing journalism.”

That last line, “ …[we] weren’t held to traditional journalistic standards, because we weren’t doing journalism” is, of course, a pure bullshit argument in much the same way that local PR attack blogger Cameron Slater claimed for years to be ‘not a journalist‘ (thus exempt from expectations of ‘traditional journalistic standards’) … but has grasped for a different interpretation of what he does now that he’s trying to avoid the identity of his clients — oops, I mean ‘journalistic sources’ — being exposed through the court discovery process in a defamation trial.

Oops, wrong Cameron.  pic: guardianlv.com (click)

Oops, wrong Cameron. Never mind. (sigh)
pic: guardianlv.com (click)

I’ve made the point elsewhere that *if* Cameron Slater can be shown to be a deceitful PR gun for hire … carrying out denigration campaigns for money or other exchange, and *if* he’s judged to have defamed the Auckland businessman currently suing him, such a finding may significantly affect any damages awarded. But that’s just speculation. (Read some background to the defamation case here: Part of the news media? or a “PR blog” dedicated to “destroying” reputations? and Target of Cameron Slater’s ‘campaign’ speaks up.)

Parasites

Like any number of less-offensive parasite bloggers, Cameron Slater has, it seems to me, a track record as someone who takes liberally from other media sources, re-publishing their words and images — sometimes with scant, if any, acknowledgement — merely adding a sentence or two of ‘spin’ or spitting an insult at one of his many targets. He’s certainly he’s been accused of plagiarism or ‘stealing’ from working journalists. He doesn’t like that when it happens.

I quickly formed the view (back when I read his hate blog for research) that Slater was an operator who appears to distort ‘news events’ and ‘facts’ … routinely fudging or omitting proper acknowledgement of the sources of his regurgitations — while wailing about the same treatment at the hands of the mainstream media. Dull.

But perhaps all that’s changed with his search for ‘news medium’ legitimacy. (retch) For instance, I noticed a recent change in author tags used at his site. Continue reading →

A snippet of advice about using pass phrases – Edward Snowden

This is an un-broadcast clip from John Oliver’s hilarious but excellent interview with Edward Snowden about surveillance earlier this week. (Which you can see here at youtube – as I post this it’s had a remarkable 4.7 MILLION views!)

This short discussion (below) about pass phrases (as opposed to passwords) is worth a watch too:

– P

Another useful article is this one from Micah Lee about using dice throws to (randomly) select words from a long list of words.

Public relations and the anti-democratic style of politics

I had an interesting chat online with some other journos yesterday/last night about the place (or, in my view, lack of place) of paid PR propagandists like Matthew Hooton as ‘pundits’ or ‘panelists’ in news and current affairs shows. (Click the image below to read around the conversation on Twitter. There was quite a lot of to-and-fro.)

At one point TV3’s The Nation producer Tim Watkins quite fairly asked me where I’d draw the line re unacceptable pundits … to which I answered:

click to read in context on Twitter

click to read in context on Twitter

Here are some thoughts from someone else who’s thought about it — Nicky Hager in 2008…


Imagining a world where the PR people had won

by Nicky Hager
a speech to Sociological Association of Aotearoa New Zealand Conference, University of Otago, November 2008.

Those of you who grew up in New Zealand will share my experience of a country of clean rivers and streams. We could swim in any river, drink from almost any stream and spend time by the smallest creek trying to catch little freshwater native fish. I remember as a child hearing about countries like the United States where they had “water pollution”. It seemed remote and unthinkable that New Zealand would ever have such problems.

As you know, New Zealand today, the land of water, has serious water pollution problems. A lot of rivers are too polluted to swim in, much less drink. Even some major ground water supplies are polluted. Lake Taupo is in risk of biologically dying. The creeks are mostly too polluted to have native fish. Many of them have dried up and disappeared. Even more surprising, there are water shortages. In Canterbury some rivers have so much water taken out of them for industrial farming that they disappear altogether in dry years.

These problems have grown slowly — too slowly to catch attention or prompt much concern — and then they have accelerated in the last 20 years when restructuring of the New Zealand economy led to changes to land use and farming practises. Until recently there was no awareness outside a few specialists and now suddenly people are waking up to what’s been lost, and how it changes our lives. But even now the major water users and polluters unsurprisingly are still denying anything’s wrong.

This, I will be arguing today, is a good analogy to what’s happening in the democratic sphere. We live in an era where the public spaces are being crowded with paid spokespeople, spin and trickery; where news and political discussion are being polluted by the glib outpourings of ever growing numbers of PR people; and where the public spaces available for real democratic activity are drying up.

These problems have grown slowly — too slowly to catch attention or prompt much concern — and then accelerated in the last 20 years as restructuring of the New Zealand economy has led to redistribution of power and resources and changes to our politics and media.

My subject for today is considering the CUMULATIVE IMPACT of the growth of public relations, and particularly its cumulative impact on the media and the other public spaces where politics occurs. I will give an overview of the trends: more and more paid manufacturing of news, more and more paid voices in so-called public discussion, increasing sophistication of manipulation, more media management, more fake community groups, more scripting of politicians by unseen advisers and so on. My question is, how much is too much? When is the system broken, the river polluted?

I will describe some of the range of influences that undermine modern democratic society. It is largely bad news but later I’ll talk about where I see the hope. Continue reading →

Guest post: The history of Propaganda

Paul Bieleski from Nelson sent this in as a comment on the last post … I found it interesting. – P

Propaganda

The “Congregation for Propagating the Faith” founded by the Catholic Church in 1622 is where our use of the word propaganda has come from. Its activity was aimed at “propagating” the Catholic faith in non-Catholic countries. From the 1790s, the term began being used also for propaganda in secular activities. The term began taking a pejorative connotation in the mid-19th century, when it was used in the political sphere. This is also shown in a 1961 dictionary where it had “Organised method and system of propagating or disseminating principles and doctrines.” but a more recent 1998 dictionary had “The organised spreading of doctrine, true or false information, opinions etc.”.

Edward Louis Bernays (1891 – 1995) is the author of a book “Propaganda.” published in 1928. He was an Austrian-American who was a nephew of Sigmund Freud. He combined the ideas of Gustave Le Bon and Wilfred Trotter on crowd psychology with the psychoanalytical ideas of his uncle. He saw that the use of the word Propaganda had acquired some negative connotations so invented the words Public Relations as an alternative. He is referred to in his obituary as “the father of public relations”.

Gustave Le Bon (1841 – 1931) was a French social psychologist, sociologist, anthropologist, inventor, and amateur physicist. He is best known for his 1895 work “The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind”. His writings incorporate theories of national traits, racial superiority, herd behaviour and particularly crowd psychology.

Bernays, working for the administration of Woodrow Wilson during World War I with the Committee on Public Information, was influential in promoting the idea that America’s war efforts were primarily aimed at “bringing democracy to all of Europe”. Following the war, he was invited by Woodrow Wilson to attend the Paris Peace Conference in 1919. This thinking was heavily shared and influenced by Walter Lippmann, one of the most prominent American political columnists at the time. Bernays and Lippmann sat together on the U.S. Committee on Public Information, and Bernays quotes Lippmann extensively in his seminal work “Propaganda”. In 1919, he opened an office as Public Relations Counsellor in New York. He held the first Public Relations course at New York University in 1923, publishing the first groundbreaking book on public relations entitled Crystallizing Public Opinion that same year.

The mantra of promoting democracy is the mainstay of US propaganda and is still in use. Continue reading →

“Cameron Slater/Whaleoil is a bastard and we’ll do him over.” Reaping what you sow.

Hunua Falls_2015-Apr-03

click to visit radionz.co.nz

click to visit radionz.co.nz

By happy coincidence, as I was driving with family to Hunua Falls (above) for a swim and a picnic on Good Friday, I tuned into Radio NZ National in time to hear a panel discussion from a book festival held in Christchurch last year. It featured Guardian reporter and The Snowden Files author Luke Harding, Perth (Australia) journalist and author Richard KIng (Offence), and Nicky Hager whose book Dirty Politics had just been published.

Having enjoyed (if that’s the right word) Harding’s Snowden book, and devoured Nicky Hager’s (see Read it and weep. Nicky Hager’s ‘Dirty Politics’ and following) I found it interesting listening — especially a turn in the conversation where Hager was asked and talked about how he’d approached a source who had obtained a tranche of attack blogger Cameron Slater’s communications … and then explained the source’s motives.

You can hear the whole discussion by clicking on the links in that Radio NZ image above (let me know if that doesn’t work — I’ve archived it). But here’s a 7 minute clip of the relevant section. In it, Hager describes the dirty tricks politicians and sleazy PR companies used to “discourage, distract, demoralise, demonise and delegitimise” their opponents – and how Cameron Slater’s online nastiness and toxicity (eventually) led to his exposure as a secret tool of John Key’s National Party and dishonest corporate interests. Both groups, it seems clear, covertly used Slater’s PR attack blog to ‘bash’ political opponents — it seems Jason Ede was paid to do this from the PM’s office — sometimes through ghost-written pieces Slater published under his own name.


extract: Nicky Hager at the Word Festival Christchurch August 2014
MP3 file [6MB]

It’s worth listening to the whole 52 minute clip when you get a chance.

Whaleoil reduced

There’s been much wailing and thrashing about from the Slater camp since the revelations of Dirty Politics. They seem to have, frankly, undone him. Sure, superficially the WO ‘machine’ is still churning out content supported by deputy dawg and ‘moderator’ Pete Belt, Slater’s wife Juana (who, honestly, writes hateful dreck), and other acolytes.

But the trauma of Cameron Slater’s ‘examination’ since Dirty Politics — in inquiries, court cases, a privacy law suit, and in the media  — and his own admission, made through tears and grinding teeth no doubt, that he has systematically misled people (i.e. lied to them) about the extent of his influence (‘talking big’ about Judith Collins, exaggerating his links to John Key, fundamentally misrepresenting his role with the PM’s office) seem to have gutted him.

Of course, it’s tempting for Slater’s critics (of which I am one, in case there’s any doubt) to see the world as they want to see it. But it seems clear the failure to launch of Slater’s much-vaunted (does Mr Boastful do anything any other way?) “news service” which, he claimed was going to cause ‘carnage on the media landscape’ is a symptom of his radioactive potato status. Any way you look at it, the Slater brand is damaged, perhaps permanently.

In the aftermath of his dishonest behaviour being exposed, Cameron Slater has, at various times, expressed outrage at an alleged ‘left wing conspiracy’ aiming to ‘destroy’ him and drive him to suicide; bragged that he knows exactly who the whistle blower Rawshark is; begged for money to pay his lawyers’  bills; hawked branded T-shirts and sun hats; and issued menacing threats of recrimination and exposure against journalists he insists/admits/claims he was previously spoon-feeding his attack lines and smear stories.

Slater reacted particularly badly to Fairfax political editor Tracy Watkins when she described his ‘brand’ as ‘repugnant‘. (Not that she’s alone in the media drawing attention to that self-evident fact. And ask John Key and Judith Collins.)  Continue reading →