Watch this video. It’s short, less than 5 min, but it’s very good.

The ‘flack’ filter — attempts to attack, invalidate and delegitimize “inconvenient” media narratives (starting about 3′ 30″ in the video) — was clearly on display in the NZ Government and NZ Defence Force spin response to Nicky Hager & Jon Stephenson’s book Hit & Run. That was obvious.

Of course, as we’ve discussed here, Teflon John Key frequently used that ‘attack/discredit’ technique to dismiss criticism, and dodge inconvenient facts (remember “Screaming left wing conspiracy theorist”?).

John Key: Not lying, he said. Just forgetful. (click)

John Key also sometimes used others of Chomsky’s ‘filters’ and methods exposed in Manufacturing Consent to defend his own changing narratives as they came apart under scrutiny. Or sometimes Mr Key’s bald statements were clearly shown to be false.

Remember how he denied knowing, let alone hand picking and approaching in person that old school mate as head of the GCSB? You know, the guy whose phone number he had? Who he’d had breakfast with? That guy. See: John Key addresses Parliament on his earlier misleading statement about Ian Fletcher’s appointment and following.
Bobbing and weaving cost Key some credibility. But not enough, some would say.

Sure, some in the media tried to hold Barbecue John to account. Like PM’s “fabricated” smear on Snowden documents, but over his time as Prime Minister, from what I saw, Key had a habit of making statements of dubious veracity and slithering away from them when confronted. Remember this example?: Hansard can be a real bitch, eh Mr Key?
The most popular political leader of my lifetime and, at the same time, a Hollow Man.

Credit where it’s due: John Key’s spin machine was bloody good at manufacturing consent. He was supported in it by his likeable, oh-so-slippery-but-then-that’s-the job-innit? Chief of Staff Wayne Eagleson. If Wayne ever writes a memoir, I’ll buy it the day it comes out, if not before. There’s a guy who knows where the bodies are buried. It’d be a shame if his ‘inside story’ of the 9th floor was lost. I first met Wayne when he was Rob Eady’s 2IC in Jim Bolger’s office. His government superannuation must be a wonder to behold.

When a story strays away from the approved narrative, the attack machine turns on them – to discredit sources, trash the story. Like ‘Hit & Run’.

Now put all this in the context of what’s been revealed in Hager’s books (not just Dirty Politics) about government spin machines and the long practice of deceiving the public.

Secrecy is one thing. A case can be made, surely, for secrecy in military operations. But what about political warfare? Or, closer to home, that ‘politics of personal destruction’ stuff that’s coming up for display in the various legal challenges to whatever skullduggery Carrick Graham, Cameron Slater and his backbone Simon Lusk, and various bit players have been doing?

Weaponised ‘public commentary’ when in fact it’s not that, but, in some cases an orchestrated campaign of dark arts attacks and propaganda — well, that’s got to be the very definition of ‘ill-will’ when it comes to defamation proceedings, I would have thought.

That sort of cynical stuff – the ghostwriting, like Carrick Graham, Simon Lusk, and Jordan Williams have apparently done for material published under Cameron Slater’s name (that shows deceit, surely?) on his PR attack blog – well that has to be the antithesis of, and destructive to an ‘honest opinion‘ defence. Even without any money, travel benefits or ‘free’ firearms changing hands.

Jut a few thoughts. How do you see it?

– P

Facts are stated to the best of my knowledge and commentary is my honest opinion. Corrections or clarifications are always welcome by email. Comments are open, but may be moderated.
– Best wishes, Peter Aranyi

You might also be interested in reading: ‘Dirty Politics’ revisited: More evidence of deceit and covering tracks