Media goes quiet on Dirty Politics | The Jackal

8 Sep 2014

Media goes quiet on Dirty Politics


As the initial blast from Dirty Politics that has ended Judith Collins' career subsides, the shock wave that also injured a number of other corrupt people's careers looks set to echo in the ears of journalist, bloggers and the general public alike right up until election day.

Although an interim ruling by the High Court on Friday saying media outlets are allowed to report on the material they already have at hand, over the last three days there's been a complete lack of any in-depth analysis or further revelations about the corrupt National led government.

Even though Rawshark gave a number of news agencies all the raw data, strangely the mainstream media are sitting on their hands and doing nothing with it.

On Friday, the NZ Herald's Tim Murphy tweeted:


Today, the Otago Daily Times reported:

Protection for Whale Oil blogger tipped

On Friday, Mr Slater won an interim injunction against ''unknown defendants'' publishing his private emails - referring to the hacker known as Whaledump, or Rawshark, who obtained the information used as the basis for Nicky Hager's controversial book, Dirty Politics.

But Justice John Fogarty said Mediaworks TV, The New Zealand Herald and Fairfax could run what material they already had. Mr Slater is also being sued by Auckland businessman Matthew Blomfield in a defamation case.

So why such a lack of reporting over the last few days about one of the biggest political stories in New Zealand's history? One reason for there being a lack of reporting has been provided by Barrister and visiting lecturer at the University of Auckland, Kevin Glover:

The Whale Oil / Rawshark injunction

The media organisations will be aware that any publication before the interim injunction hearing will be placed in evidence before the Court.  This may mean a reluctance to publish, although equally publication of material which is clearly in the public interest could strengthen the case against an injunction.

There is a strong presumption against the Court preventing publication of material in advance – known as “prior restraint” (of free speech). This will be the main issue in the next hearing.

Perhaps the media are just playing it safe and waiting for the final ruling on Wednesday, or perhaps there's nothing further in the raw data that's of public interest. This may be the case being that Nicky Hager, although he didn't receive all the data like the media, would have gone over the information Rawshark provided with a fine-toothed comb.

Surely there's no valid argument to be made however that certain parts of the messages that haven't yet been made public aren't of public interest? For instance, the Jason Ede and Cameron Slater communications could perhaps help us determine exactly how involved John Key was in National's dirty tactics to undermine the opposition.

It could also be the case that the media are simply biased and don't want to further influence the election with the terrible truth. Perhaps they're simply ignoring the fact that the National led government is rotten to the core and don't actually deserve to be in power. Unfortunately my gut instinct is telling me that this is the most likely reason for the media going quiet.

Either way, the serious implications to our democracy unearthed by Nicky Hager's book and the public release of information thus far requires further analysis. It must have a follow-up which ensures John Key and his propagandists don't just carry on like it's business as usual.