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 (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 version. Well, 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 →