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Nicky Hager and the Emails of Doom

Speaking of the political rhetoric and its disconnect from understanding…

Author Nicky Hager accuses the prime minister of being “cranky” and of coming up with “wacky” conspiracy theories. Hmm. – Liam Hehir, Palmerston North

Backstory: investigating journo Nicky Hager came into possession of a lot of internal emails from the National Party, and used them as the basis of a book called The Hollow Men that essentially rolled Nats leader Don Brash out of politics.

Nats attack dog Matthew Hooton went ferociously after control of the story with the lede-friendly counterattack line that those emails were stolen not leaked, probably by high-tech computer hackers, and that made Hager a criminal, and never mind the substance of the book because he’s a criminal and they were hacked! HACKED I SAY!

Cue endless discussion over whether or not the emails were hacked (the media reports all use this frame even though none of them really seem to know what “hacked” means). Meanwhile, things that came up in those emails remain ignored by every media commentator and most politicos. John Key, current Prime Minister, was an important liaison between the Exclusive Brethren and the Nats machine; he denies this vehemently even though the Hollow Men movie has a clip showing him entering a meeting with the EBs. Does anyone challenge him on this? Apparently not. The only story is whether or not the emails were HACKED, i.e. whether Hager is an outright criminal or just a very naughty man.

So, there are two police investigations into the allegations of hacking. Hager maintains “no, they were leaked to me”. Police say, twice: no evidence at all of anything like hacking, whatever that means.

John Key’s response: “Bollocks.” Nice one, P.M., stay on message there. So in the face of two police investigations you’re just going to stick to your story? Of course you are, because your story is a strategic position adopted upon advice from media advisors, and is not in any way connected to anything real. Nats insider/advisor Richard Long, who might be the very one who helped John Key come up with the response line to this story, enthusiastically supports the bollocks line in his completely independent political commentary column in the DomPost.

And so we get the letter to the editor by Liam Hehir, who helpfully demonstrates how effective this media management has been. In Hehir’s world, it’s Hager who’s the wacky conspiracy theorist and John Key who’s the reasonable and sensible one. Sorry Liam Hehir, but you’ve been sold.

I can only point at the media on this. John Key has basically said the police investigations were flawed, and discounted their conclusions. On the basis of nothing much at all he’s pushing a line that says Hager’s entirely reasonable claim of “leakers at work” is a lie, and Hager is a thief. No-one pushes back on this. And certainly no-one pays much attention to the dirt that the emails in question throw in Key’s direction. Media as stenographers to the powerful, as Glenn Greenwald likes to put it. The result is Liam Hehir’s letter. Come on, DomPost and others, do your jobs will you?

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