Hard News by Russell Brown

117

The joke that went too far

A few people will be aware of allegations that a Labour MP committed a sexual assault that was covered up by police. It's not true. Indeed, the whole thing was a hoax.

So far as I can tell, it happened this way: the person responsible, posing as the wife of a police officer, emailed Cameron "Whaleoil" Slater with a fairly detailed account of the alleged scandal. Slater replied and assured her of confidentiality. Then, in another email, he wrote:

Thanks for your reply. I have spoken to Phil kitchin and he will take this as easily quietly as you wish. It is important to get the story told and so we will go as fast as you are comfortable.

As you may have noticed I have started leaking select titbits but certainly no specific details.

Phil Kitchin is a DomPost/SST journalist and is a good honest guy. He has agreed to protect you as our source. He would like to chat to introduce himself so you can get comfortable with his approach and then arrange to meet later once the rules have ben established.

hope that gives you some comfort.

Indeed, Slater had begun "leaking select titbits", as had his friends, including Clint Heine and Matthew Hooton. They hinted, darkly and smugly, about a brewing scandal. They implied they had deep Beehive sources on the matter. In fact, all they had was an email full of eminently checkable "facts" they did not appear to have tried to check, so great was their glee.

Eventually, the hoaxer sent a email claiming a "critical error" and that the subject of the scandal was not the Labour MP,

... but actually National Party leader John Key. I apologise for this mistake and assure you I will be more careful about my facts in future.

It was a pretty dumb stunt, if only because it could easily have gone badly wrong. And the hoaxer seems to accept that. "She" told me by email that:

To be honest I thought whaleoil would be the only one to print it and did not think other people would believe it. Feel very guilty at how this worked out and would appreciate it if you could write something to clear things up.

Slater, demonstrating his trademark lack of self-awareness, has now switched from drooling on his keyboard to expressing moral outrage at this despicable attempt to smear the name of a poor Labour MP. Or something.

--

Clinton Smith is a bright young man. Under his blogging name, Steve Pierson, he's often sharp and energetic, and he does good graphs. He could be a serious commentator -- if he can develop some impulse control.

In this post on The Standard, he takes aim at David Farrar's post on Kiwiblog about this week's crime stats.

There are various aspect's of Farrar's analysis that might warrant criticism: the main one being that he's really only guessing when he rejects the idea that the increase in recorded violent offences is down to increased reporting of family violence. He emphasises increases in various violent offences, but can't know how many of them took place in the home, because that information was not in the police report. (Although it did turn up in this illuminating Checkpoint interview with Assistant Police Commissioner Grant Nicholls, who talks about the split between public-place and family violence and rather douses Farrar's argument in the process.)

Also, Farrar highlights a rise in violent crime since the mid-90s without bothering to correct for population increase; and he uses the words "having 1,000 less cannabis crimes and 500 more rapes is a net decrease in crime, but would be a worrying trend" in a way that could easily be read as an account of the new stats (in which the long trend of decline in sexual offending has resumed) rather than a mere theoretical example.

But really. He was spinning the crime numbers; just like Smith did on the same day. I can't see that's cause to call him "a disgusting person" and, worse, declare Farrar is "hardly one to fret about rape".

Smith might well be exercised about the issues, but perhaps he should try being a grown-up and putting that passion into his argument, rather than targeting abuse at the same person, over and over. Especially when Smith himself is prone to annexing the moral high ground. and when, whatever the transgressions of his comments brigade, David is a decent guy.

Meanwhile, over at Pundit, Tim Watkin consults researchers and concludes that, while New Zealand's record is nothing to be proud of, public fear of crime is out of proportion to the reality.

---

Phew. Enough of all that for a Friday.

When I learned this morning that Tiki Taane had built a track around David Lange's Oxford Union speech, I was quite excited: the long battle to liberate that recording was about making sure derivative use was allowed. I'm not so impressed that the track, 'David Lange, You Da Bomb' is for sale, even if it's only $2. I couldn't put a licence on the the Lange audio (on account of not owning the copyright), but if I could, it'd be Creative Commons attribution/non-commercial/share-alike. That's the spirit of the project.

Anyway, you can still freely download Tomorrowpeople's classic musical version of the speech from our site.

This week's MGMT mash-ups and cover versions:

Peaches vs. MGMT vs. Soulwax vs. Yeah Yeah Yeahs on 'Kids'.

Katy Perry sings 'Electric Feel'.

Kaiser Chiefs have a crack at 'Time to Pretend.

A Kanye and MGMT mash-up.

And … finally. I have two double passes for the New Zealand Music Awards, Wednesday night at Vector Arena, to give away. Want one? Click reply and email me with "Awards" in the subject line. I'll draw winners later this afternoon.. [The winners are Paul Rose and one of the last entrants before I closed it off, Susan from Action Traffic.]

PS: Yikes! Nearly forgot to plug this week's Media7. It's about Fashion Week and the media, and it really came out pretty well. The panellists are Deborah Pead, Noelle McCarthy and Trish Carter, and there's also a Fashion Week report from Simon Pound and a Newsmash with Sacha Baron Cohen getting thrown out of Milan Fashion Week as his alter-ego Bruno. It's on TVNZ ondemand, as Windows Media clips, the podcast, and the first half is on YouTube.

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