Wouldn’t it have been a good idea to interview people before publishing?

Stuff reports:

Former ACT party leader Rodney Hide says he ‘laughed out loud’ over allegations he was blackmailed into standing down as leader of the ACT Party.

Jordan Williams, the Wellington lobbyist who features heavily in Nicky Hager’s latest book, also says the suggestion is “utterly false”.

In his book Dirty Politics, Hager claims that Williams was part of a campaign to pressure Hide to stand down, including claims that he was blackmailed into resigning over him sending “inappropriate text messages to a young woman”.

The book published an exchange between Simon Lusk, a political strategist previously aligned with the National Party, and WhaleOil blogger Cameron Slater.

Lusk to Slater: “Cam we an f… up rodney. …Jordan is talking to a girl that Rodney has been sending dodgy texts to.”

Slater: “Get the texts….I can get them to Jonathan Jarshall. Just the sort of grubby shit he would be into.”

“Trying. Problem is that Jordan needs to get them first, probably Wednesday night, but at the same time we can use this to our advantage.”

Slater: “Drop them hard this Fri. No coming back from that.”

Hide said he “laughed out loud” when he read the allegations and referred to Lusk and Slater’s conversations as “two guys who email each other sort of like they’re standing around in the pub talking bullshit…”

Rodney is right. I would have thought an investigative journalist, would follow up the e-mails, and ask if any of the stuff talked about actually happened. People often get boastful or hyped up on e-mails. The entire book is based on e-mails to or from Cameron (plus some material stolen from me), and they take as the literal truth everything said on e-mail.  Just because someone boasts that they will try and get the Minister to move a prisoner for them, doesn’t mean it ever happened – and in fact it can’t happen.

I doubt there are many people who can say they have exaggerated or boasted a bit on e-mail. The blackmail of Rodney never happened. If it had been attempted, he would have gone to the Police.

The book would have been far less sensational if there had been some actual investigating. Instead it is just a book of e-mails, and a theory wrapped around it. No actual interviews with anyone, or substantiation beyond the e-mails.

Ian Wishart points out the hypocrisy:

In his new book Dirty Politics, Nicky Hager reprints allegations contained in stolen private emails – theories about a wide range of people. Among the allegations he has printed are that former Act leader Rodney Hide was blackmailed into quitting because he had been caught sending inappropriate text messages to a woman.

Additionally, Hager reprinted emails alleging Auckland mayor Len Brown was having sex with prostitutes.

Neither Brown nor Hide appear to have been asked to comment on the truth of the allegations. In fact, Hide has definitely confirmed he was not approached, and that the allegations are false and without substance.

Yet here is what Nicky Hager testified to the Wellington High Court in a defamation case last year:

“I believe the more serious the allegations we write, the more care that is required to ensure we have got things correct. I say to myself that no one can ever criticise me for things I haven’t written, so that if I am not absolutely sure of something, I don’t publish.

“Research is something that can take months or years. In this case the allegations were serious and personal. I would not include allegations like those in my work if there was so little time for proving the facts…

“I was struck by the fact that the sexual allegations appeared to rely entirely upon the words of the plaintiff’s ex-wife. As a journalist, I would feel very uneasy about publishing, let alone putting my name to, sexual allegations from an ex-spouse unless I had done a lot of work and found very strong corroborating evidence.”

In Nicky Hager’s new book, he has no witnesses at all; no prostitutes admitting to sleeping with Len Brown, no ex-spouse, no woman saying she was sent inappropriate texts by Rodney Hide. Hager’s entire ream of “evidence” is actually hearsay gossip, which is usually inadmissible in court.

“There are issues of logic in investigative journalism,” Hager told the High Court. “In particular we have to be careful that our evidence actually supports our conclusions…

You might not like Wishart, but he is quoting Hager’s own words.

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