Nicky Hager’s thesis appears to be that negative attack politics damages our political system. He makes the case in a book that is a negative political attack, the fourth in a series of attacks he has hoped each time will change an election.
Nicky Hager is a privacy campaigner utterly opposed to government intrusion into private data and communications. Nicky Hager has published four books based on data derived from stolen communications.
Nicky Hager is appalled that some bloggers (Cameron Slater, David Farrar) are National Party members, and are part of National Party campaigning. He is relaxed however about other blogs and bloggers (Martin Bradbury, The Double Standard ) being members of other parties and part of other parties’ campaigns.
Nicky Hager is an unreliable witness.
But so too are the dim bulbs in the mainstream media who allow themselves to be manipulated.
The mainstream media has failed, still, to come to terms with blogs and bloggers -- part of the reason Hager’s claims at this election get traction. The mainstream media and its commentariat section have been ignorant for years about what constitutes objective journalism. Failing to understand that objectivity does not mean neutrality – that even in selecting the facts to report, every journalist necessarily betrays their own position – since the birth of blogs the mainstream has risen up in horror at bloggers broadcasting their own opinions loud and proud in every word, sentence and paragraph they publish.
To bloggers and blog readers, this the pleasure of blogs. To the mainstream finger-waggers, this is a crime. And not just do bloggers broadcast their own opinions – and none so loudly locally as Cameron Slater – they have the temerity to publish them without the imprimatur of the media’s gate-keepers. This crime, still unforgiveable in some circles, has the MSM ready to convict every time the words Slater and Cameron come up.
I say: note the facts, and beware of hyperbole.
Nicky Hager (rhymes with saga) makes a short story long. But that is no excuse to make it wrong.
The always-wrong Armstrong for example has already decided Cameron’s openly-boasted-about downloading of documents from an insecure Labour Party website is akin to Watergate – ignoring that Watergate was an amateurish attempted theft that only brought down a president because he tried to cover it up, not a blogger publicly downloading documents the website had made open to the world.
The MSM has mostly accepted unquestioningly Hager’s claim that he is “letting people know about the government” (as he told ZB’s Hosking this morning), yet all he’s told us about, at best, is what some party hacks got up to. Interesting, maybe; but devastating? Really?
The claims last night that secret SIS dirt on Phil Goff was dished to Cameron to serve up already looks like hogwash: being revealed now as as a claim Cameron was invited to file an Official Information Application to get details of Phil Goff’s briefing by the SIS – a claim some miles down the road of hyperbole broadcast last night, and another already denied by the Whale.
Perhaps the most pathetic of all the claims that have emerged so far (and at the time of writing this, Dim Post seems to have the most concise summary) is the whole chapter of the “explosive” tome devoted to Hager’s belated discovery that David Farrar is an active National Party member and pollster – something evident to most of us since at least 1996 when Farrar was on Usenet, and widely advertised since, not least on the very blog that Hager claims is a National Party front, yet repeated breathlessly this morning by every news broadcast it’s been impossible to avoid. [Farrar answers the hysterics here.]
This is not to totally discount any actual facts that might be found in the book – a book, remember, based on six years of stolen emails, amongst which you’d expect to find at least an interesting tale or two to tell, if you didn’t mind betraying someone’s privacy.
But perhaps the biggest message already from the results of Hager’s carefully-orchestrated document dump is that it’s not a dump at all -- that is, it’s not a dump in the Climategate/Wikileaks sense of dumping a ton of documents online so all the facts can be revealed. Instead, it’s a cherry-picking by Hager of what he considers to be the worst stories imaginable he can spin from the stolen documents.
And if this is the best he can do – if the worst he can say about a collusion between senior government ministers, party staff and high-profile bloggers is that they exchange emails and occasionally post anonymously, then it seems this little country at the bottom of the South Pacific has less to worry about than we might have thought. You know, compared to evidence from, say, the States that the Justice Department there was compiling data from journalists’ phones; that their IRS is actively targeting political opponents of the president; that an opposition film-maker has been jailed based on trumped-up charges … in the cold light of day I can’t help thinking that by comparison it makes what Hager so breathlessly revealed all seem remarkably benign.
Which I hardly think was the conclusion Hager was inviting us to draw.