Category Archives: Cameron Slater (Whale Oil)

The Ben Rachinger Hoax

Expending precious writing time on yet another self-admitted police spy infiltrator hasn’t been a high priority.

Just scratching the surface of the colossal Ben Rachinger Hoax led to an article framework of 22 sub-topics that would have taken 6000+ words to elaborate on.

But it doesn’t take 6,000 words to see the Ben Rachinger Hoax for what it is.

All it takes in fact, is the tiniest bit of further investigation into his own claims as posted in his (for want of a better term) online manifesto.

Rachinger’s own words are more damning than anything a critic could ever write.

Ben published a series of screenshots of conversations on his cellphone. By zooming in super close on the images you can see the text of the previous message, obscured under the transparent header.

We have exposed the text and overlaid it in white, on the right-hand side of each image.

Ben’s messages appear in green and right-hand justified. His recipients in grey and left-hand justified.

  1. Ben Rachinger asks his Police handler whether he was named as an informant in the warrant for the October 2nd, 2014 police raid on investigative journalist Nicky Hager’s house. This means Ben must have supplied information to the Police relevant to that investigation. Ben’s handler reassures him that he made sure Ben’s name was kept out of it. Ben sends his handler a link to The Intercept’s article about the Hager raid, dated October 16, 2014. Ben later claims credit for having “leaked” the story of the raid to the press.


2. Ben Rachinger tells his police handler that he is: “Always free to help the police” and “I will absolutely testify as needed.”


3. Ben claims to have blown the whistle on WhaleOil – which Nicky Hager’s source Rawshark – the real whistleblower – had long since thoroughly accomplished. Yet what we see in Ben’s screenshots is time and time again, him instructing WhaleOil to do something specific or offering to facilitate it. This is a form of entrapment. In the below case, Ben attempts to instigate a “leak on left contacts right now”, then offers to do it saying “I can do it ten times removed.”


4. Talking to WhaleOil’s contact who Rachinger claims is a hacker, his mask slips and the truth comes out. “Social engineering is my real core skill. It’s what I use twitter for.” 


5. Ben solicits Israeli involvement – another aspect he claims to have blown the whistle on, without providing any specifics or any new information other than what is already in the public domain about WhaleOil.


6. “I only aim to be helpful”, Ben reassures WhaleOil. A helpful, social engineer, police informant.


7. “Focus on Kim Dotcom” reads the exposed text in yet another one of Rachinger’s screenshots. Indeed Ben’s video hit piece on Kim Dotcom in the lead-up to the election is another file on the deleted pile.

8. “How to bait an animal you’ve never seen, though?” asks more exposed text in yet another one of his screenshots, in which he is ostensibly discussing hunting the whistleblower Rawshark.

In his manifesto, Rachinger states:


So Rachinger claims to be a WhaleOil whistleblower. Yet he was hunting the actual WhaleOil whistleblower for the Police. He wants us all to believe that his attempts at outing the whistleblower was somehow performing a civic duty.

Yet his original Twitter account, which was unceremoniously shutdown in the wake of him publishing his manifesto, told a different story.

That Twitter account had repeatedly made now-deleted proclamations such as “I’ve been under surveillance since I was a teenager. It changes a person.

So which is it? He was happy to work with the cops because his family member is a cop? Or he is an activist who has been under surveillance since he was a teenager?

He already gave us the answer:

“Social engineering is my real core skill. It’s what I use Twitter for.”

That single sentence confesses that everything Ben Rachinger has ever said on Twitter lacks credibility.

Social engineers are pathological liars and identity frauds who use social media to begin fake friendships, working relationships and romantic relationships with their targets, in order to extract confidences from them that they then barter and/or outright profit off elsewhere.

They lie constantly and to everyone.

They entrap people for a living.

They are known to bombard a thread from multiple separate accounts, simultaneously masquerading as multiple people, when in fact it is all one person. They start nasty accounts that send threats. They start benign accounts RT’ing activist content of notable activists to build credibility with and to become recognisable in activism circles.

They piggy-back on Anon ops, creating fake Anon accounts with which to monitor the activities of others, all while pretending to come from a position of solidarity.

Ben Rachinger isn’t the first police spy to out himself in an online statement.

Notorious FBI informant Brandon Darby did the same thing, and also used the language of solidarity to attempt to shine himself in a positive light. As is evident in the comments section; it didn’t work.

He also lied about when he actually became an undercover operative, post-dating his employment with the FBI by over a year.

How WhaleOil Became A Target Of Rachinger

The answer to that is simple. WhaleOil was always in Judith Colins camp and not long after the election was writing passive aggressive articles stating that John Key should step down as Leader or be rolled; trying to exacerbate the cracks in the National caucus. He was no longer a key ally or seen as ‘needed’ post-election and the content of his own article makes it apparent he was cut off by the P.M., and was unhappy about it.

Rachinger worked with the cops, the cops were trying to take down Nicky Hager and Rawshark, who had exposed the P.M.’s office, which was no longer friendly with WhaleOil.

How to bait an animal that you’ve never seen, indeed: by baiting it with a Whale.

How The NZ Left Media Got Duped

So what better way for one faction of the political “right” to deal a return blow on another faction of the political “right” than to have the “left” media do it?

WhaleOil was already unpopular as hell with the “left” in the wake of the Dirty Politics scandal so getting them to attack him again would prove easy.

Enter Ben Rachinger’s rebranding as a “whistleblower” (who hunts whistleblowers) and his leaking of his communications with the already thoroughly-disgraced WhaleOil.

Scoop drank the Kool-Aid.


Off the bat, veteran independent journalist Alastair Thompson references a tweet of Ben claiming to be the whistleblower, Rawshark. Thompson later refers to that tweet as a ‘joke’ – Rachinger has called the tweet “a solidarity statement”.

But with the Hager raid having occurred October 2nd, Ben having sent his handler the link to The Intercept article sometime after the 16th (17th in New Zealand) and his ‘I am Rawshark’ tweet being posted on the 31st of the same month, it is likely that Rachinger was still a police informant hunting Rawshark actively at the time he sent the tweet.

So we are expected to believe Rachinger was merely making the statement in solidarity with the hacker who he was hunting for his police handlers. More likely he was trying to bait Rawshark into re-emerging, and if not, to bask in the perceived glory himself.

Indeed, while Rachinger was posting his “I Am Rawshark” claim, literally on the very same day in fact, real Kiwi activists were hard at work exposing none other than the NZ Police, for their inaction against the ‘Roastbusters’ serial pack rapists, and familial relationships between members of the police force and the perpetrators, who to this day remain uncharged.

Rather convenient timing for one of their informants to be drawing attention away from that debacle by claiming to be Rawshark.

Thompson calls Ben “a brave (some might say foolhardy) young hacker / journalist, a class of new entrants to the media scene who are having a big impact – and some of whom like Chelsea Manning & Barrett Brown who have found themselves martyred for their temerity.

Frankly this makes me wonder if people have forgotten how Chelsea Manning ended up in jail. She was the target of a social engineer and FBI informant called Adrian Lamo.

To compare Ben Rachinger to Chelsea Manning is to compare the predator to the victim.

If that isn’t enough to make you spew your coffee, Thompson refers to Ben’s manifesto as “an exceptionally fine piece of undercover investigative journalism“, as if it is possible for one to perform investigative journalism on oneself. What Ben actually did was cherry-pick bank transactions and digital communications to craft a tale to his liking, ignoring the many conflicting details he has deleted and edited out of existence over the years.

Rubbing salt into the wound, Thompson writes: “Like Rawshark Ben has had also some issues in social media and media relations around strategy..

Rawshark gained 8,000 followers in a few tweets. He or she had the entire national media and populace eating out of their hand.

Ben Rachinger, by contrast, had an account comprised of thousands of fake (possibly bought?) followers; an account which he continually curated and eventually withdrew entirely.

Their social media strategies are hardly comparable.

It gets worse: “arguably these pratfalls in the “Meta” telling of the story are a signature of this new and rather compelling genre. We could call it “the real lives of geeks who are trying to save the world” for want of a better moniker. Citizen Four comes from this Genre as does Quinn Norton and Barrett Brown’s work.

The genre being discussed bears no resemblance to Ben Rachinger’s self-outing as a police informant. Barrett Brown is in jail for five years because of being targeted by the FBI – one of the agencies most reliant on informants and social engineers.

The closest Ben Rachinger will ever get to Citizen Four is watching it on a screen.

Written by Suzie Dawson

Twitter: @Suzi3D

Official Website:

Journalists who write truth pay a high price to do so. If you respect and value this work, please consider supporting Suzie’s efforts via credit card or Bitcoin donation at this link. Thank you!

Chris Trotter and WhaleOil: Strange Bedfellows or Birds of a Feather?

Circles within circles, they call it. Pull one thread in the New Zealand mainstream media status quo, and it’s absolutely astonishing where you end up.

Chris Trotter is absolutely everywhere in the New Zealand media. A self-described “Left-Libertarian Democratic Socialist”, spit and you can’t miss him.

On television. In the Herald. In the Listener. On The Daily Blog, and his own well-known Bowalley Road. On NewstalkZB. On RadioLive. On the WhaleOil Radio Summer Series.

Wait, what??

Yes, that’s right. It seems Chris Trotter is Cameron ‘WhaleOil’ Slater’s pet lefty. So much so that Trotter’s posts are reproduced almost wholesale, and often outright lauded, on the WhaleOil blog.

Due to the infamously insidious nature and conduct of that particular publication, it will not be hyper-linked to here. However were you willing to possibly subject yourself to tracking cookies and God knows what else by visiting then you could assess for yourself the prevalence with which Trotter’s viewpoints are promoted to the right-wing of the New Zealand political spectrum.

The relationship tracks back years and in the vein of Trotter’s own formulaic prose (which is heavily reliant on reminiscence for historical context) let’s start with some background.

“Mr Slater should be an inspiration to all of us” declared Chris Trotter in November 2012; in celebration of the newly crowned NZ Truth Editor in Chief WhaleOil who in the same month was reported to have attempted to become an arms dealer (not kidding).

Indeed Slater’s appointment to NZ Truth boss took many by surprise. Probably because they had never seen this 2010 retelling of the history of the publication, written not by a “left-wing conspiracy theorist” – but by Joanne Black, the press secretary of Bill English and a contributor to the WhaleOil blog.

Much later on, in August of 2014, while attempting to justify as a purported political norm the countless dirty tricks of WhaleOil and co that were exposed by Nicky Hager’s book ‘Dirty Politics’ – (“The options are not fair means or foul: They are foul means or fouler” he declared) – Trotter quoted directly from Joanne Black’s piece and was again lauded by WhaleOil:


Yet as it so often goes these days… the most interesting passages of the article weren’t what was quoted by Trotter. While the irony of a “Democratic Socialist” acknowledging his admirer WhaleOil’s McCarthy’esque predecessors at the helm of the Truth is thick, Black’s explanation of the broader attack methodologies and the publication’s ties to state intelligence agencies are much more fascinating.

From Joanne Black’s ‘The whole Truth’;

[the target] was found not guilty but, as Yska reports in his book, three days after the trial, “the first of a series of lengthy articles about [the target] appeared in Truth. A vast quantity of personal and financial information was published over three consecutive weeks to back up the weekly’s claim that [the target] was in fact a spy, a liar and a contemptible individual.”

Yska says the forensic detail in Truth’s material was such that family and supporters were sure it was derived from “official” sources…

…“I don’t believe there are any documents proving that Truth and the SIS were bedfellows, and in fact [SIS head] Warren Tucker told me there is no such material on the files,” Yska told the Listener.

But does this mean the relationship didn’t exist? In his book, Yska says it is safe to conclude that “over many years, sources in or close to the SIS did pass information to Truth. The relationship would have been fluid and informal, but the SIS, like its British counterpart MI5, is likely to have had officers authorised to have ­contact with journalists.”

Wow. So in a nutshell, there is a long history of the publication that WhaleOil was chosen as Editor for, not only practising Dirty Politics-style targeting of political foes but being leaked SIS information in order to do it. Eerily similar accusations to those leveled against our state spy agency in 2014.

Except you didn’t hear that from Chris Trotter. He somehow failed to notice it. Somewhere between his cheering on Slater’s appointment and advocating Dirty Politics as the norm, the obvious parallels went unacknowledged.

Even though in both 1975 and 2014 the events sparked an inquiry into the conduct of the NZ Security Intelligence Services (SIS).

Moving on from Black’s enlightening 2010 background, the brilliant publication The Paepae has an edifying retelling of the transition of Slater and Trotter from political foes to besties.

It details WhaleOil’s October 21st, 2011 denouncement of Trotter (alongside The Daily Blog editor Martyn ‘Bomber’ Bradbury) as a ‘flunky’.

The very next day, October 22nd, WhaleOil prints a retraction, citing “an offline chat” and calling Trotter “someone whose (sic) opinions I enjoy”.

Of course, WhaleOil doesn’t state who the offline chat was with – although it implies it was with Trotter, perhaps it was with one of the Dirty Politics puppet string pullers informing him that Trotter was A-OK… or perhaps he was just pleased as punch that not ten days earlier Trotter had been ripping the National Party’s arch ideological enemy, the Mana Party, to shreds.

Perhaps nothing gives greater insight into the Trotter mentality than this video interview by well known media analyst/lecturer Bryce Edwards at the University of Otago.

Edwards introduces Trotter as one of New Zealand’s ‘very best public intellectuals’, and we have provided a viewing guide of his intellectualism below.

Viewing Guide:

[1:00+] Edwards asks Trotter what his political persuasion can be best described as. Trotter responds that he took an online test to find out and was “as far left” and “as far Libertarian” as it is possible to go (which would push the Mana Party completely off the spectrum…?)

[8:30] Uses the precedent of Allende to warn against non-reformist political action: “it taught me it was possible to mobilise a mass of people but it also taught me there would be consequences… you don’t want to be one of these people who thinks you can do radical things and that nothing will happen”

[10:00+] Explains again why he is a reformist. A recurring theme through Trotter’s work is that revolution = bad bad bad. That while you can talk a great game you should never act, because of what he considers to be the historical consequences. The constant warnings against acting outside of the political process by any means are the undercurrent to his supposed ‘far left’ ‘far Libertarian’ pontificating.

[20:00+] Has a go at compatriot Martyn ‘Bomber’ Bradbury, for allegedly being derisive to baby boomers and for renouncing his white, male privileged status.

[23:40] Declares that the Left is at the “lowest ebb” he’s ever seen. (With friends like these….)

[32:00] Incorrectly prophesies about the next Labour leader: “It won’t be Cunliffe, it’ll be Robertson or Ardern”. A fascinating position given the stunts that a mere seven months later, would be performed by Trotter and others, to propel Cunliffe to leadership.

[38:00] His oratory takes a bizarre religious turn which is also echoed in some of his other work.

[50:00+] Says “If you’ve spent your life surrounded by those who are socially conservative, as I have…” and talks about the importance of appealing to the traditional political Right wing.

Of course, Trotter states all of the above while sitting on stage in a T-shirt with a bright yellow emblem that states “KEEP LEFT”.

One of the most fascinating things about Chris Trotter is the way that he is accepted as a media expert and a highly decorated, experienced journalist, and yet is so wantonly open about his political machinations and “involvement in politics”.

His Bowalley Road bio reads “Chris Trotter has spent most of his life either engaging in or writing about politics”. In New Zealand especially, it seems the lines between journalist and political operative have blurred, at the public’s expense.

In 2013 I witnessed in person Trotter back-slapping David Cunliffe in appreciation, after the latter had undermined David Shearer by usurping the Labour leader’s speaking position at one of the early meetings against the GCSB on July 27th of that year.

Our media team covered the event, with multiple live-tweeters and livestream coverage, however our blog post after the fact was repeatedly electronically interfered with and our content, which included the anecdote about Trotter and  Cunliffe, was unceremoniously deleted, along with all our session information and auto-saves (as detailed in the original post on Occupy Savvy).

When we approached movement organisers with our concerns we were firmly told an agenda had been set to defer the movement (which by then had built massive nationwide momentum) with the goal of using the platform to attempt to elect David Cunliffe as Prime Minister at the September 2014 election, a year away.

The anti-GCSB movement had been a bi-partisan effort, supported by a whole raft of political parties, and it was clearly the wrong move to co-opt it to Labour. In moral outrage I wrote this post to immortalise both the political betrayal of the movement and our dissent against the course of action being taken.

The GCSB movement was about revoking the GCSB legislation – not electing one particular party candidate, and the types of political operatives masquerading as journalists who were involved in co-opting it should, in my opinion, be very ashamed. A genuine opportunity for people-led social progress was lost to the ambition of a small circle of already affluent men – a time old tale.

Even the Left noticed Trotter’s endorsement of Dirty Politics, and even the Right appear to have betrayed his confidences.

In these screenshots recently “leaked” on Twitter WhaleOil claims Chris Trotter is effectively a mole, siphoning information from the Left and transporting it to the Right.


WhaleOil is known for his exaggerations and manipulations, indeed in one of the other screenshots posted he appears to admit to having lied to set up other people in unrelated scandals…


However, if WhaleOil’s claims are true, Chris Trotter has some explaining to do.

Written by Suzie Dawson

Twitter: @Suzi3D

[This post was blogged live. Thanks for watching!]

Journalists who write truth pay a high price to do so. If you respect and value this work, please consider supporting Suzie’s efforts via credit card or Bitcoin donation at this link. Thank you!

Dirty Journalism and #DirtyPolitics

Who could imagine we would witness #DirtyPolitics right-wing blogger Cameron Slater openly blackmailing NZ Herald journalists and ostensibly getting away with it? While complaining that he is the victim of “leaks”, it is clear that “leaks” are exactly what WhaleOil and his accomplices trade in.

That NZ Herald editors have allowed a situation to continue where their lack of action against reporters leaking information to attack bloggers results in those same bloggers now publicly turning their dirty tactics against those journalists, beggars belief.

The below article is by much-loved Kiwi blogger Giovanni Tiso (@gtiso on Twitter). Giovanni is a writer and translator based in Wellington. He blogs at Bat Bean Beam and this must-read article has been reposted here with permission.

Dirty journalism

Always there is the temptation to take sides, especially if it’s the side that Cameron Slater isn’t on. But what we have come to know as dirty politics is a tangle. There are no ‘sides’. Just threads. Pull on the wrong one, and the knot only gets tighter.

From: [Redacted]

hello mate,
feel free to use any of this stuff…best to refer to as something from the tipline

Cameron Slater posted this last week on Whaleoil, a strategic piece of leaking from his own communications. The redaction is his. The intent, less than noble: to remind John Armstrong – author of the latest opinion piece on dirty politics – that at any moment he could release the rest of the email, or other emails like it, and cause embarrassment to a colleague and to his newspaper. ‘Stay away,’ he warns him. And then, sotto voce, to the rest of us: I’m not the only bad guy, you see, and besides everyone is a bad guy. We are all dirty. (These aren’t quite his words.)

The redacted email is yet another thread for us to pull. It’s always tempting when you come across a new one.


The week after Dirty Politics came out, I wrote of the struggle that might ensue within media organizations and of our likely role as spectators unable to influence its immediate outcome. I also suggested that if it was ever going to become a question of the media versus the public, the public would lose. It hasn’t quite come to that yet, but there are signs of entrenching within the profession. Complaints that the critics are becoming too loud and the criticisms too harsh, especially on social media, with no apparent awareness that mounting frustration might be the source of the outbursts and attacks. And so it was that Patrick Gower – who some weeks ago lamented how Twitter had stopped being fun – finally lost his patience, along with what was left of his self-awareness.

I understand wishing to be left alone, sometimes, and I’m sure that not all of Gower’s botherers have issues of public interest foremost in their minds. But there are too many questions there aren’t being answered, too much carrying on as if nothing had happened, for journalists who built their careers on playing the game the hard way to cry ‘leave me alone’.

Then there are the ex-journalists. Like Colin Espiner, former political editor for The Press, long-time columnist at the Sunday Star Times, now external relations manager for SkyCity; or Bill Ralston, former head of news at TVNZ, still weekly columnist at The Listener, still regular commentator on radio and television, celebrity speaker and principal – along with the missus – of a communication company specialising in ‘media training, political strategies and crisis management’. Upon learning that an investigative journalist had his house raided by the police and personal as well as work documents seized, what these stalwarts of the profession chose to be angered by was the fact ordinary citizens were paying money into his legal fund.

Jealousy and resentment are perplexing feelings to harbour towards somebody like Nicky Hager, except perhaps by the people mentioned in his books. And sure, these two are no longer practising journalists, but I would put forward that the former political editor of a major newspaper and the former head of news of our state broadcaster are still representative of the culture, most especially at the managerial level.

However the greater issue is the sheer weight of what hasn’t changed: on the wake of a scandal which engulfed the media, there have been no resignations among executives or reporters, nor to my knowledge has any print, radio or television editor signalled a change in the way things will be done and who will be asked for comment on politics and policy.

In no particular order: Rachel Glucina is still employed by the newspaper she was using as a mouthpiece for the Minister of Justice. Cathy Odgers was approached by the New Zealand Herald to comment on the political campaign, and the column might well have gone ahead if she hadn’t pulled out herself. Matthew Hooton admitted to Kathryn Ryan his role in the ‘chop chop for Nicky’ affair, and has kept his half-dozen jobs as a political commentator and columnist, including on the public airwaves. Jim Mora continues to invite representatives of a Tory front organisation and the likes of Stephen Franks – whose legal firm made use of Whaleoil – on his popular show at Radio New Zealand. Cameron Slater remains a commentator for Newstalk ZB (which led Wendyl Nissen to resign her job at the station), as is Jordan Williams (which led Helen Kelly to resign), as is David Farrar.

They’re all still there.

So maybe reporters working for those same organisations – and the list is hardly exhaustive – may wish to reflect on why their calls for the resignation of politicians or appointees are not always as forceful and effective as they seem to think they should be.

There has been some excellent reporting done on dirty politics, but it counts for little so long as some of the main players in the story – all of whom have been variously shown to be in the business of manipulating as opposed to informing the public – are going to continue to occupy their privileged, unchallenged platforms. It does not serve either balance or plurality for us to continue to hear from them.


And so, if I decided to pull on the thread and follow up on the redacted email, it was not to do Cameron Slater’s bidding in his campaign to get the New Zealand Herald to shut up about dirty politics, but because I don’t think we’re asking enough questions about dirty politics. The Herald, remember, is still not disclosing the documents that formed the basis of the Donghua Liu reports filed by Jared Savage in June of this year. Savage, in turn, has admitted to passing information on to Cameron Slater in the Feeley affair, three years earlier. The link isn’t casual, and the possibility that the Liu stories were part of an orchestrated attack on Labour at the outset of the election campaign is very concrete. So where’s the reporting on this relationship? Who is questioning the reporters?

(And no, in case you’re wondering, bloggers don’t count. Not if their lines of enquiry aren’t followed up on.)

To be fair, Morning Report did interview Herald editor-in-chief Tim Murphy on Donghua Liu. But when the Feeley email was released to the press, raising significant concerns about the conduct not just of a cabinet minister but also of two senior reporters, the latter got to respond on the Herald’s website and that was that. So far as I can tell, no further explanation was sought or given.

In his response, Savage explained that he forwarded some emails on to Slater as part of an information sharing or ‘horse trading’ arrangement.

This sometimes happens with journalistic sources and it’s naive to think otherwise. […] I didn’t know that our conversations about Feeley were being shared with others, like PR man Carrick Graham – and that was naive of me to think otherwise.

This struck me as chilling at the time, but also indicative of a surprisingly common attitude from within the industry, a perplexing combination of hard-nosed pragmatism (you should know how things work, son) and bewilderment at how information could get into the wrong hands once it’s passed through the hands of a journalist. Savage says it well: you people are naïve; I was naïve. This naivety serves a double function: to explain and to absolve.

I asked Russell Brown, who knows a lot more than I do about these things, about the extent in which sharing information in this way might be standard practice. He replied:

You could say that there’s an element of exchange in many interactions between journalists and sources, but I don’t think it’s particularly common for journalists to trade information with their sources in that way. But Slater was a strange fish — he was both wholesaling and retailing scuttlebutt on behalf of others. Wholesaling it to journalists, retailing it in his blog.

Inside of that relationship, the wholesaling and the retailing, a number of people had their lives dragged. And while Nicky Hager is constantly questioned about the ethics of his working with stolen correspondence, none of the reporters who have collaborated with Slater have had to defend the public interest value of their stories against the danger of exposing others to Whaleoil. Yet that is also where the naivety defence falls apart: for nobody can claim not to have known what that blog was about. There is no excuse.


I asked Jared Savage if he’s the author of the redacted email which may not even be real. He responded courteously that he would not comment pending Justice Chisolm’s inquiry. I asked David Fisher, who said that he wasn’t, and that he never traded information with Slater back when he had dealings with him. I asked Shayne Currie and Tim Murphy separately for comment. None has been forthcoming.

Spin Sins Committed:

Astro-Turf Media

[Thank you for reading and sharing this important work. The amazing artwork at the header of this post was donated by Occupy Auckland media co-ordinator/livestreamer @Redstar309z]

This Is What Real Journalism Looks Like

[This 2144-word 30-source opus has been cross-posted from the website of Kiwi Occupier and social justice activist @endarken, with permission. Above image by Occupy Auckland media co-ordinator @Redstar309z. Original headline: “NZ’s Watergate: Situation Normal All F(h)ooked Up”]

The struggle for control of the mainstream media narrative in New Zealand is always fascinating to observe and, thanks to the explosive pre-election whistle-blowing of Nicky Hager’s book Dirty Politics, increasingly so.

Arguably the largest political scandal in the history of our small country, Dirty Politics is more about the media than they care to admit.

While framed by them as a debate about bloggers, the implications for, and insights into the machinations of establishment journalists are of far greater consequence to the New Zealand public.

Unfortunately, investigating the corruption of the mainstream media and examining their own part in the subversion of democracy does not suit the strategic goals of profit-driven corporations. Which is seemingly why the rash of mainstream confessions published on major New Zealand news sites soon after the release of Dirty Politics, included this one that featured an addendum by the very editors of the publication – a post-script that publicly ratified, supported and forgave their wayward employees, on the spot.

In P.R. circles, it was a tactic known as front-footing. In other words, answering questions before they are asked, but better yet, from their perspective, framing the subject while addressing only the angles for which they have prepared their defense then hoping the facade of solidarity appears strong enough to deter any further probing.

Indeed the blending of the disciplines of journalism and P.R./lobbying are exactly what has got the New Zealand media into this mess. Any journalist who deals with a political-payroll blogger is one degree of separation away from liquid spin.

NZ Herald editor Shayne Currie and editor-in-chief Tim Murphy leaping to such quick defense of their erstwhile staff members makes them seem hypocritical.

For while they now explain: “reporters will have conversations with contacts from all sides of the political spectrum every dayin the wake of Dirty Politics, backtrack six months and we find;

“the APN Editorial Code of Ethics was that: ‘Journalists must not participate in community or political activities that compromise their work or their publisher’s credibility or objectivity'”.

John Drinnan quoting NZ Herald Editor-in-chief Tim Murphy in the NZ Herald

At face value, the Devil’s advocate would say; journalists receiving information from sources across the full political spectrum does not violate that code. We would be inclined to agree. But what about journalists supplying information to sources they know might use it to engage in paid political activities?

The NZ Herald “investigations editor” describes himself having done just this, writing:

“I cut and pasted the content of some of those emails, to remove any possible identifying features, and forwarded them on to Slater. So information was shared, there was a bit of “horse trading”…

Jared Savage in the NZ Herald

Later in the piece Jared acknowledges to having “…the knowledge that he comes with a right-wing agenda.

In light of these events and particularly the speed with which Jared Savage’s editors exonerated him, I find it impossible to imagine that the public can retain confidence in our mainstream media going forward.

OSINT (Open Source Intelligence) & corporate sanitisation

August 30 was a very interesting night on Twitter. For the first time ever I saw Kiwis engaging en masse in OSINT – in laymans terms, putting their heads together to pool scraps of publicly available information and analyse it.

Such analysis is usually the realm of media organisations and intelligence agencies, but where the aforementioned fail in the pursuit of truth and democracy, the public are now filling the gaps.

The end result was this stunning visual representation of the insidious implications of the #DirtyPolitics scandal, involving no less than FOUR NZ Herald journalists. (Be sure to examine the arrows that flow to and from these journalists; making it clear that in at least Savage’s case, the information was going both ways).

The effort was lauded by a number of media figures including a producer of popular mainstream current affairs show Campbell Live. Shortly thereafter, The Daily Blog republished the following graphic that had appeared in the NZ Herald:


While it was very clever of the Herald to use pictures and text in their diagram, it was missing one major piece. Four, actually!

The Herald Four

The NZ Media Revolution: Installation 85% complete

It doesn’t seem so long ago that Occupy NZ was telling the mainstream media “You Need Not Fear Becoming Julian Assange“. Now even political parties are learning to call out the media.

The Internet Mana Party, which has run an extremely innovative and current digital media campaign in the face of constant mainstream media smears, “dirty ops” and black-outs, is now circumventing the 6’o’clock news sabotage of their campaign by releasing its own news program.

In the aptly titled “Not The 6’o’clock News”, Internet Party leader Laila Harre turns the cameras on the press pack, calling out their “casual media bias” and enjoying a platform to push policy and campaign updates that is free of corporate ambush or malicious editing.

Who can blame them when it is so clear that Dirty Politics is still in operation.

Leaked Emails and Shoes On Other Feet

The most recent anti-Internet Mana Party mainstream fluff (and that’s putting it kindly) is by one of NZ’s most lauded commercial journalists, TV3 Political Editor Patrick Gower. His opinion piece addressed to indigenous political leader Hone Harawira, “Dear Hone, Harden Up” is extremely ill-conceived and adds weight to the allegations of insiders that the press gallery do indeed all chase the same political “story” – whether or not it is a story.

To demand of all people, that Hone “harden up” is extremely audacious.

I know Hone Harawira well” claims Gower. Well then, Patrick would have had the scoop of the year when Hone’s office was recently shot at by persons unknown, yes? No. TV3 reported the incident six days after it occurred, and gave it comparatively little news time.

Astonishingly, the TV3 article about it has 0 social media shares and 0 comments on it. Even Willie Jackson called out the obvious bias in the media. The Daily Blog described the mainstream media as being “indifferent” over it.

Less than two months later – this 85-word 3News report (with 9 shares on it) that Hone Harawira has been in a near-fatal car accident in Northland.

Two weeks later want to know “Where is Hone Harawira?

Adding in the context of Cameron WhaleOil Slater’s court battle to prevent his own emails from being published, despite having spent years profiting off the leaking of the private information of countless other people (including many instances of facilitating the leaking of emails and other content), this week’s press gallery furore over – you guessed it – leaked emails (this time Hone Harawira’s), is even more ridiculous.

Just as Hager’s book Dirty Politics showed us – the media has (again) focused in on a triviality fed to them (whether Harawira did or did not approve of/disagree with a campaign marketing idea) while completely ignoring the bigger picture of his office being shot at, car running off the road, and the real reasons behind his recent low profile – all of which clearly have nothing to do with marketing at all.

Not to mention the issue of who leaked the Harawira emails and why?

Tellingly, Harawira didn’t go running off to the High Court to seek an injunction against the media, ala Slater. Is that why the media feel they have free reign to nakedly resume their anti-Internet Mana agenda? Have they been sufficiently cowed by WhaleOil’s threats and court actions to once again run his lines, and target his opponents? Apparently so.

This – you guessed it (again) – TV3 article by Tova O’Brien is so full of conjecture and misnomer it deserves an entire counter-response all of its own. The first line proclaims a “major breakdown in the Internet Mana Party” and from the 146 shares already on it, suggests the article has enjoyed a much better placement, promotion or site referencing than Hone Harawira’s office having been shot at or his car running off the road.

Indeed a quick Google search shows as of today;

“Hone Harawira car accident” – 18k results
“Hone Harawira office shot at” – 26k results
“Hone Harawira cannabis policy” – 32.7k results

…making it abundantly clear where the mainstream media’s interest lies, where the Internet Mana Party is concerned.

TV3 – Getting Personal

In a foolhardy attempt to corroborate TV3’s accusations of a “major breakdown”, O’Brien references Internet Party Press Secretary Pam Corkery calling Brook Sabin “a “puffed-up little s**t” for trying to interview Dotcom at the Internet Mana election launch last month”. Yet again the truth falls victim to an obvious omission, clear to anyone who has viewed the footage.

We, the public, have no idea what Brook Sabin said to Pam Corkery that led to her “puffed-up little s**t” comment as TV3 helpfully edited out the context and led their 6’o’clock news coverage with those precise words. But what Pam is shown saying to Sabin and his fellow corporate news talking head Michael Parkin of TVNZ afterwards gives a hint at the truth behind the sensation.


“He (Dotcom) said three times ‘I don’t want to give you an interview’. He’s not a candidate, he doesn’t owe you anything. When will you glove puppets of Cameron (WhaleOil) Slater just piss off?”

This means that the footage TV3 broadcast to the nation was the result of at least the fourth time that Sabin, Parkin et al had demanded to interview the Internet Mana Party patron, in an attempt to focus on Dotcom’s legal history in lieu of interviewing party candidates about the launch.

So where is the footage of them asking the first three times? Is that not newsworthy? Would their badgering not provide context as to the real source of Corkery’s exasperation? A Google search for Pam Corkery’s outburst leads straight to Cameron ‘WhaleOil’ Slater’s You Tube account. The video is posted the same day as the TV3 coverage – 24th August 2014.

Is it a coincidence that it is posted on his channel?

Or is there a connection between TV3 and WhaleOil, as with so many other mainstream New Zealand journalists and publications?

Is it coincidental that TV3’s relentless anti-Internet Mana Party coverage aligns with WhaleOil’s stated aim of destroying Kim Dotcom, as outed by Nicky Hager’s Dirty Politics?

Or does the nefarious continuation of WhaleOil’s Dirty Media Ops penetration of mainstream sources prove that the WhaleOil pro-National cabal is not only in full swing but full steam ahead, just as he himself suggested?

In a recent Twitter exchange, Slater directly tweeted at me that he was “more robust” than I think. I would love to embed the tweets for your viewing pleasure but they appear to have been unceremoniously deleted. Just like some of his blogposts. It appears it is not only the mainstream media practicing sanitising content to shore their personal positions.

Breaking Developments

In the course of writing this article two new twists have unfolded. Firstly, WhaleOil has partially succeeded in exerting legal pressure to gag the very mainstream news organisations that are supposed to report in the public interest. Bearing in mind that the organisation reporting in this article about it, is yet again, TV3.

Who you would think, with their parent company listed as one of the defendants in WhaleOil’s suit, would be diametrically opposed to his position.Yet when analysed at a meta-level, the revelations of media complicity in Dirty Politics and the political angles routinely asserted by the organisations in question may point to them having a covert stake in the suppression of any further coverage of the WhaleDump leaks – perhaps as much so as WhaleOil himself.

Indicating that perhaps it is not Hone Harawira, but mainstream media stalwarts, that need to “harden up”.

Angry Protesters on the Steps of Parliament

The second major development that is unfolding is a protest of 100+ people on the steps of Parliament. Funnily enough we didn’t hear about this on the news, but sure enough, we did on Twitter.


The New Zealand public are the unknown quantity in the Dirty Politics charade. If actions like these continue, the mainstream media will be forced to fall into line. Because if there is one thing they dislike more than being sued – it is being scooped by citizen journalists.

The fact that little-known accounts of random members of the public are now livetweeting and livestreaming seemingly-spontaneous actions at Parliament, without the support of any central organisation, supports the theory that the Awakening is spreading, and that regardless of state interference, the truth on the ground shall prevail.

One way or another, the revolution WILL be televised.

Spin Sins Committed:

– Victim Blaming
– Astroturf Media
– Omission
– Misrepresentation

Written by Suzie Dawson

Twitter: @Suzi3D

Official Website:

Journalists who write truth pay a high price to do so. If you respect and value this work, please consider supporting Suzie’s efforts via credit card or Bitcoin donation at this link. Thank you!

Alleged Collusion With AstroTurf Blogger Might Bring Down John Key

Never did we dream that our second post on this site would be on a topic that may end the political career of Prime Minister of New Zealand John Key.

Famous Kiwi investigative journalist Nicky Hager has just a few hours ago NZST, released an explosive new book called “Dirty Politics” that implicates the office of the Prime Minister and his Press Secretary, Cabinet Ministers, and other political figures in the seemingly routine leaking of information which allegedly may include information obtained from sensitive intelligence documents to Canon Media Award-winning right-wing blogger Cameron “Whale Oil” Slater.

It seems Slater has been caught out creating AstroTurf media by regurgitating not only information from the sitting Government but apparently also publishing word-for-word spin sent to him by shady corporate figures including the tobacco industry.

More shockingly, the Prime Minister’s office is alleged to have participated in not only the leaking of material for political motives, but the compromising of Labour party computers in order to facilitate the aforementioned.

These hypocritical political players are all critics of whistleblower Edward Snowden, and deride the leaking of information for the public good, yet appear to approve of and participate in leaking information for their own personal political gain.

Even more shockingly, the involvement of ex Minister of Police, now Minister of Justice Judith Collins, who has previously been outed by ‘The Listener’ regarding her leaks to media (saying “I do ring people up and give them stories, because, gee, I guess I think that’s my job…”), takes this to another level and suggests that this may snowball to become one of the biggest political scandals in the history of New Zealand – because Judith Collins is the sponsor of cyber-bullying legislation that was supposed to prevent exactly the type of bullying that WhaleOil engages in at the apparent behest of Judith Collins herself and a host of other established Parliamentary figures.

According to the April 2013 article, Judith Collins’ “legislation will make it an offence to send messages or post material online that is grossly offensive, indecent, obscene, menacing or knowingly false. That sort of material will be punishable by up to three months’ imprisonment or a $2000 fine.

Considering the extreme and offensive nature of Cameron “WhaleOil” Slater’s targeting of an alleged rape victim and his disgusting references to Pike River Mine victims/their supporters, what an ironic situation the NZ political and media jetset now find themselves in.

As many media commentators have noted, the revelations are mind-blowing and are only just unravelling. Until we have read the book for ourselves and seen how things play out over the next 24 hours, we will use this post to archive the information that is becoming available in the public sphere.

Media & commentary is also being aggregated on the Twitter hashtag #DirtyJK – a euphemism combining the title of the book “Dirty Politics” with the initials of Prime Minister John Key and the internet colloquialism for “joke”, which is exactly what has been made of WhaleOil’s blog and of the Ministers/political lackeys engaged in such underhanded backroom behaviour.

There have already been several calls for the resignation of the Prime Minister in the event that these allegations are proven, including from Helen Kelly, President of the Council of Trade Unions.

Aggregated media relating to #DirtyJK / #DirtyPolitics:

Official website of the book, “Dirty Politics” by Nicky Hager

Wikipedia – Dirty Politics

Statement from Unity Books over book selling out\

Reporter of the Year Andrea Vance says “SIS (Secret Intelligence Service) gave blogger first dibs on paper’s release

Excerpt from “Dirty Politics”…


Mainstream Media Articles: 

– “Dirty Politics: Launch of Nicky Hager’s Book
– “Gordon Campbell on Nicky Hager’s New Book”
– “Hager: Book exposes National ‘attack politics’
– “Dirty Politics – Industry Overwhelmed By Demand
– “Hager’s book raises legitimate questions
– “Voters Will Leave National ‘In Droves’

– “Hager book: ‘You Will Not Believe What You Read’”  

– “Hager book claims dirty tricks…
– “Gloves well and truly off after Hager book released
– “Judith Collins claims smear campaigns over Hager allegations

– “Nicky Hager’s book shows National’s dirty politics
– “Winston Peters: Dark Day in Politics
– “New Zealand Needs To Know The Other Side of Key – Nicky Hager
– “Key Won’t Investigate Collins

– “Nicky Hager book launch” 

– “Investigative journalist Nicky Hager’s accused John Key of running the nastiest campaigns in politics since Rob Muldoon in his book Dirty Politics
– “Nicky Hager Denies Kim Dotcom Involvement in Dirty Politics Book” 

Otago Daily Times:
– “Dirty Politics – Hager Releases Leaked Emails” 

Radio New Zealand:
– “Hager accuses National Party of dirty tricks” 

– “PM’s office dismisses Hager’s book
– “John Key Trashes Hager’s book

– “Hager book contains leaked emails to ‘obnoxious’ blogger” 

– “Nicky Hager’s book attacks National’s links with bloggers” 


Russell Brown’s Public Address:
– “Dirty Politics

Martyn Bradbury’s The Daily Blog:
– “How Attack Politics Is Poisoning New Zealand’s Political Environment
– “What Hager Has Revealed With SlaterGate and NixonKey
– “Dirty Politics Investigation – Let The Public Be The Judge
– Key “not worried”

– “..Dirty Politics Book Kicks Up A Storm in New Zealand (Part 2)

The Standard:
– “Hager’s ‘Dirty Politics’
– “Dirty Politics in Tweets

The Dim Post:
– “Dirty Politics
– “Dirty Politics – Summary” (of allegations)
– “Dirty Politics and Consequences

New Zealand 9/11 Truth:
– “Nicky Hager Releases New Book Exposing Leaked Emails Between Cameron Slater and Top National Party Members

Chris Trotter’s BowalleyRoad:
– “Thank God for Nicky Hager!”
– “Dark Day In Politics – NZ First
– “PSA ‘Deeply Disturbed’ by Hager book allegations

The Flippin’ Truth:
– “Book alleges dirty National Party politics; Greens, Slater to lay complaints

– “Hager and the Hacked Emails

The Political Scientist:
– “Media narratives – a field experiment and a Litmus test

Geoffrey Miller:
– “How did Martyn “Bomber” Bradbury know what was in Dirty Politics?” (plus answer from Martyn)

Atlas Monitor:
– “Book alleges dirty politics – Key ‘not fit to be PM’

The Jackal Blog:
– “National’s death by association

Likebulb: Intel & Analysis:
– “What Nicky Hager’s book really exposes

– “Dirty Politics: My 2c

– “Dirty Politics must be cleaned from the top

– “A Crazy Day in Dirty Old NZ Politics

– “Nicky Hager brushes off name-calling over Dirty Politics book

– “The WhaleOil leaks – Anti-politics from above

– “Jason Ede Not A Public Servant


– “Dirty Politics; Nicky Hager’s New Book

And a nostalgia tweet from Cameron “WhaleOil” Slater himself:

…and more, much, much, more to come.

Spin Sins Committed:
Victim Blaming
Astroturf Media

Written by Suzie Dawson

Twitter: @Suzi3D

Official Website:

Journalists who write truth pay a high price to do so. If you respect and value this work, please consider supporting Suzie’s efforts via credit card or Bitcoin donation at this link. Thank you!